Based on the classic novel by Gunter Grass, this drama of a young boy who beats a tin drum to combat his feelings of desperation and anger during the rise of the Third Reich is as dark and disturbing as it is utterly compe... more »lling. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.« less
"I read the book two weeks ago and have just viewed the Criterion Collection DVD. I found the book to be complex, rich, insightful, puzzling, and surreal. I loved it. This film comes as close as any film could to the spirit of the novel and still be under 3 hours long.Oskar is born to three parents who, like the Gdansk they live in, represent 3 ethnic groups: Pole, Kashubian, and German. He is fully conscious at birth and is presented with two paths for his life - one as a shopkeeper and one as a musician. While the people of 1930's Gdansk/Danzig feel forced to choose ethnic sides and mundane occupations, Oskar rejects the "stupid" adult world. He stops growing and learns to assert some control over adults through his drumming and vocal talents. One of my favorite sections of the book is when he musically subverts a large Nazi rally. Not only was this well done in the movie but was worked into a bonus feature that had Grass reading the book chapter while we watch the corresponding section of the film. The words of the spoken German as well as the subtitled English translation have a lot of power and poetry - this feature is a very rare treat.You also experience in the film something Schl?ndorff confirms in interviews: it is hard to imagine this film existing without David Bennent. His voice and eyes carry so much of this film. The short interview feature with Bennent is delightful.I thought the bonus feature on the Oklahoma censorship was interesting and somewhat balanced in that it portrayed the zealousness on both sides. However, I would have preferred to see more of Grass or material on the creative efforts of the film.On a more serious note, I find Oskar's indictment of society very compelling. Something about the way the film brings themes to life (more than the book) makes 1939 Germany frightenly parallel to the US of 2004. In Oskar's world, the people in power make false claims in order to invade other countries, human rights abuses increase and all objections are shouted away with "patriotic" speeches and political rallys. For the most part people remain ignorant or apathetic to the suffering their government officials are causing. (Perhaps we need a few Oskars drumming at the democratic and republican conventions this summer.)The film stands very well on its own but I would encourage people to read the book first. The book is more complex, covers more years of Oskar's life and it develops some important ideas that are not at first obvious in the film. For example, as Oskar ages he still looks 3 years old and he consciously exploits this by manipulating the adults around him by behaving more childish than he really is. There is also an interesting theme in the book related to Rasputin and Goethe.It is also worthwhile to do a little browsing on the web for historical material related to Gdansk/Danzig, Kashubia and the large population resettlements after wars in this area. The excellent bonus features also explore the themes of the film and add a lot of value."
Johnny Na | 11/23/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie back in 1983. I was only 9 years old but the movie to this day left an indelible impression on me. It was sad, yet humorous. Some parts make you go a little bug-eyed but that's all part of the surrealism of this movie. The young actor who played Oskar was amazing. Obviously you could tell he was just a child but I could actually see him as an adult as the movie goes on. I'm not in the habit of seeing foreign language films. In fact, I can honestly say that I've seen only a handful of them. This was my first German language film and I can safely say it was my favorite. Buy this video. You will not regret it. Its that amazing."
An Allegory of Germany
Corky Cotrell | San Antonio, TX USA | 12/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Schlondorff brought a superb cast together to tell the story of Oskar, who ceases to grow beyond his three year old size; a symbolic representation of Germany in the twentieth century. Oskar's mother is courted by a German and a Pole. Gunther Grass's allegorical solution to the wrenching of national borders and ethnic shuffling brought about by World War I is to show the mother, unable to choose between her lovers, choosing them both. One becomes the father of Oskar. Which one? Does it matter? Thus Oskar arrives amidst the confusion of the twenties, only to witness the degradation of the homeland by revolution, runaway inflation and finally, the steady growth of National Socialism through the thirties. Oskar mirrors the turmoil of Germany's struggle of the twentieth century, unable to free itself from its own dream of Teutonic superiority, unable to find peace in the national soul. View this work with an eye to the inadequacies of your own country and begin to see Gunter Grass's dilemma with his."
A Totally Recommended Piece Of Work
Corky Cotrell | 06/18/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've watched the Tin Drum several times, and have learned new things with each viewing. I own the VHS and the DVD version. The DVD is superior because it offers a behind the scenes feature, and also a Director's Commentary from Director Volker Schlondorff which is very good. The story deals with a little boy named Oskar who decides on his third birthday after receiving a tin drum, to stop physically growing. There's much more to the plot, but that's just the gist of it. Fine acting by the entire cast also. A movie that should be seen."
A Great book, a Great movie, but the book is better
Mxw53@aol.com | Pennsylvania, USA | 01/31/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was fantastic. I read the book first and loved every word of it. The only reason the book is better than the movie is because, sad to say, is that the movie was only half the book. When I first got the movie and watched it, I couldnt wait until the pivetal point in the movie where the main character drastically changes, but when that part came it was the end of the movie. This would have been a GREAT GREAT movie classic if the director made a longer more fuller version or a second film that ended the full story of the book. But I must say the actor who played Oscar, the main character, was exactly as I envisioned. I highly recommend you buy the book first and then the movie, but both are a MUST to anyone who likes a bit of the strange."