The Tin Drum (1979)
September 19, 2018 1:11 AM - Subscribe

On his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. Haunted by the deaths of his parents and wielding his tin drum, Oskar recounts the events of his extraordinary life

1979 Cannes, Palme d'Or
1979 Academy Awards, Best Foreign Language Film
posted by rhizome (5 comments total)
Well it's been 24 hours. What a ride! It was a little difficult tracking the intertwining "history of this dude's life" thread with the "kid with a drum and triggers" one, but I suppose that's one of the goals. I'm pretty sure it's a happy ending.

Many more Nazis than I remembered, this movie is probably the most German thing I've ever watched. It's so German that it feels Russian. That bit in the opening scene with the soldiers chasing Grandpa-to-be was kind of hilarious tho! The Internet tells me the eel scene is famous now, but I only remember the vomiting being more realistic than any I had seen on screen before. Plus she barfs twice.

It's hard to say if there's much family lineage to read here. I suppose his Mom was kinda like Grandma, but not really. It's an interesting progression: pre-WWI, The Nazi generation, and their kids. The novel came out in 1959, and just two years later the Berlin Wall would go up. A pretty interesting illustration of that in-between time.

I can totally see why the movie stuck with me, Oskar's an interesting character who might be a bit more contemporary than he appears, and really a...uh...I don't know if I'd say ladies man, but in between the tapping and the piercing screams he seemed to operate socially pretty well.

I'm gonna see if the DVD has extras, so my opinion might change afterwards.
posted by rhizome at 12:37 AM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Many more Nazis than I remembered, this movie is probably the most German thing I've ever watched. It's so German that it feels Russian.

That observation is so right on for this movie it deserves more than the one favorite I can give it.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:43 AM on September 20, 2018

I'm laughing about it being Most German but also trying to think of others that would qualify.

This film also wins my award for Most Viscerally Uncomfortable Scenes. Bravo to Grass and Schlöndorff for so brilliantly accomplishing their goal. I keep writing and deleting other ideas about it and that's the only one that sticks. The ending was... the least unhappy part of the movie?
posted by mrcrow at 5:12 PM on September 24, 2018

This film also wins my award for Most Viscerally Uncomfortable Scenes.

Those damned eels. I first saw this movie when I was 14 or so and that scene haunted me for years. When I went to Germany a couple decades later I specifically ordered eel at a restaurant just to try and get past it. It kinda worked, the eels were delicious, but the scene stick remains vivid. I'm a bit squicked out even thinking about it and my meal now to be honest. Heh.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:46 AM on September 25, 2018

The DVD extras have a nice long interview with Schlöndorff where the questions, if any, have been edited out and it's appears to be a 40 minute one-take of him talking straight through the story of the movie with no apparent cuts. I highly recommend it, there are tons of subtle details, references, and effects going on throughout. For instance, the strange sound floating through some parts is a Fujara, a traditional Slovenian shepherd's flute.

One surprising story he tells is about his going to a little-people research center in order to find someone who could play a boy who chose to stop growing at 3 years old. This is how he found David Bennent, who as an adult is 5'1". He was 12 in the movie.

As it turns out, basically the entire movie is about Nazis. In Germany, from Oskar's birth in the 20s to post-war. Father (I) Alfred is a Nazi, the toy seller kills himself after his shop is ruined (as well as being turned away from the funeral), Oskar famously causes the Nazi rally to dance, the woman saying she'll just die if Hitler looks at her at the parade. All but the first act are pretty much all Nazi! And of course the last shot is them leaving in a train. I have to say I focused so much on Oskar that I barely noticed the backdrop to all of it.

There is also a nice extra with a film critic who places the movie within the New German Cinema movement, the greater European New Wave movements of the time, and in German history in general. Screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière was borrowed from Luis Buñuel, as one example of the cross-pollination going on at the time.

Most of Schlöndorff's movies are book adaptations, and Voyager is called out as particularly well done and well-German. I'd be interested to watch it as part of German club if we can put it at the end of the list.

The toy seller is Charles Aznavour, who is still alive and performing at 94!
posted by rhizome at 1:28 AM on September 25, 2018

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