Falco: Verdammt, wir leben noch! is a 2008 Austrian biopic of the late pop singer Falco, released in the U.S. under the title, Falco: The Rise and Fall of an ‘80s Pop Icon. Now, you might be scratching your head and thinking, “There’s a Falco biopic? Why?” In fact, that’s exactly what went through my dumb American brain when I recently learned of the existence of this film.
For someone like me, who was an L.A. kid in the ‘80s, there are three Falco songs. The first is “Der Kommissar,” which was released in 1981 and covered in English by the British band After the Fire the following year. More people in the U.S. are perhaps familiar with the latter version, but Falco’s version was played on KROQ. In fact, you can hear it in the station’s Top 106 of 1983 countdown, where it’s sandwiched between the Rolling Stones and REM. That version is one I distinctly recall from Flashback Weekends later in the decade, and into the early ’90s.
The Falco song that *everyone* knows (or should know) is “Rock Me Amadeus,” a monster hit that spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard charts in 1986 and spawned my favorite Muppet Babies parody, performed when they meet Rolf’s ancestor Rolfgang Amadogus. Falco had some success with follow up single “Vienna Calling,” but then he more or less disappeared in the U.S.
But, that’s not the whole story.
Falco emerged from the Vienna music scene at the cusp of the 1970s and 1980s and went on to become Austria’s breakout late 20th century pop star. While international success was fleeting, he was a superstar at home.
His star had waned in the 1990s, but Falco was on the verge of a comeback in 1998 when he died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just a few days before his 41st birthday. AP reported that 10,000 mourners attended his funeral in Vienna. His album, Out of the Dark (Into the Light), was released a few weeks after that. The following year, another posthumous Falco album was released. Called Verdammt wir leben noch (Damn, We’re Still Alive), it is the source of the biopic’s title.
Austrian actor and singer Manuel Rubey plays Falco in the film, which I recommend watching when you’re in the mood for a very dramatic ride through the 1980s pop landscape. Bonus points: Grace Jones has a small role in the film. It’s currently streaming for free on Tubi.
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