The Tin Drum (1979)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

Original title:  Die Blechtrommel

West Germany/France/Poland/Yugoslavia, 1979.  , , , , , , , .  Screenplay by , Volker Schlondorff, , additional dialogue by , based on the novel by Gunter Grass.  Cinematography by .  Produced by ,.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by .  

Nobel Prize-winning author Gunter Grass’s novel becomes a fascinating, explosively cinematic epic in the hands of director Volker Schlondorff. Oskar is born to a German family in 1924 and, at the mere age of 3, decides that grown-up life is too ridiculous for words. In an absurd twist of narrative fancy, he wills himself to stop growing, remaining a toddler throughout the rest of his life and using his ability to break glass with his screams and the pounding on his favourite toy, a tin drum, to express his frustration with the world around him. The joke is that once Germany falls under the sway of Nazism, this anomaly of human existence is actually the one who makes much more sense than everything else.  Schlondorff translates Grass’s visual prose into gorgeous camera and editing techniques, coaxing terrific performances out of the entire cast including as Oskar and a very sympathetic as his mother. It’s a long, emotionally draining film, however, and its weighty plotting causes it to run out of a fair amount of steam before its conclusion. Famously notorious in some parts of the world where it was banned for suggestions of child pornography (suggestions which are unfounded, but even the notion of a 3 year-old fathering a child in a fantasy story does push the boundaries of comfort).

The Criterion Collection:  #234

Academy Award:  Best Foreign Language Film

Cannes Film Festival Award:  Palme D’Or (tie)

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