Saturday, July 12, 2014

648. Die Blechtrommel/The Tin Drum (1979)

Running Time: 142 minutes
Directed By: Volker Schlondorff
Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Gunter Grass, Franz Seitz, Volker Schlondorff, from novel by Gunter Grass
Main Cast: David Bennent, Mario Adorf, Angela Winkler, Daniel Olbrychski, Katharina Thalbach
Click here to view the trailer


I think this is the longest I've waited in between watching a movie and writing the review. I actually finished The Tin Drum on Thursday night, but was just too tired yesterday to make it hear and discuss the movie. My goal is to usually try and write the review within twenty-four hours of finishing the film, but it didn't work out that way this time. Oh well...

To describe the plot of The Tin Drum may be difficult, but I'll do my best. The film is narrated by the main character, Oskar Matzerath (Bennent), who upon his birth, is told that on his third birthday he will be given a tin drum. Even as an infant he can hear the adults make the promise and therefore can't wait until his third birthday. It should also be noted that we never really know who Oskar's father is, as his mother has two lovers, one being her cousin, Jan Bronski (Olbrychski) and the other a Nazi cook named Alfred (Adorf). So anyway, the third birthday finally comes, he gets the drum and he loves it. Also on his third birthday, he makes the decision to stop growing. He intentionally throws himself down the stairs to his cellar and somehow that stunts his growth permanently. So anyway, he's got the drum and he bangs it constantly and whenever anyone tries to take it away from him, or make him stop, he screams. In fact, he screams at such a volume that he can shatter glass and therefore, no one ever succeeds in quieting his drumming. It is presumed from an early age that Alfred is in fact the father to Oskar, though no really knows. Alfred opens a grocery shop with Oskar's mother Agnes (Winkler) and the three live together. What Alfred doesn't know is that Agnes is having an affair with Jan, however Oskar does know, as he catches them in the act. There's actually a whole lot more, but for some reason I'm struggling to put this wonderful movie into words, via a plot synopsis so I think I'll just leave you with that.

Probably my favorite shot from the movie, as Oskar witnesses his mother be "felt up" by her cousin, while the mirror in the closet he's hiding in shows his other presumed father none the wiser. 

So this one actually sat on my desk side table for a good week before I finally broke down and popped it into the DVD player. There was just something about that title - The Tin Drum - that made me think it would be a boring mess. I knew absolutely nothing going in, which may have been a mistake. I was thinking the movie was a historical piece, something about a Germany involved war. Technically, I guess it is about a Germany involved war, but really that all takes place in the background and it's this wildly unusual story that is the driving force. I mean, listen to some of these plot ideas: a boy who decides to stop growing, a woman who OD's on fish and a boy who who is in love with his stepmom and may or may not be the father of his supposed brother! I mean, it's like Maury Povich, but with style.

I actually started this on Wednesday night and got too sleepy to finish it, so had to carry it over to Thursday night. After the Wednesday night session (about forty-five minutes), I just wasn't sure. I admitted that it was different, but I was thinking something along the lines of a 5.5/10 or something. When I returned the next night and kept watching, I kept getting drawn in further and at one point, I looked at the DVD time and realized I only had like ten minutes left. I was a little sad, because I wasn't ready to be done with these characters and wanted to hear more of this story. I had gone from lying on the bed to sitting up - a sure sign that a movie has you in it's clutches. Another sign that I really like a movie? I'll find myself detailing the plot to my wife the next day, which I also did. You should've seen the look on her face when I talked about a three year old who was really a twenty year old and who was traveling with this performing group of other people who decided not to grow and performing for the German troops.

All I can say is you need to see this movie, because while it's supposedly filled with symbolism and references to Nazi oppression, it's also a movie that you can just sit back and enjoy for what it is. I have no idea how faithful this film is to the book, but honestly it comes off like it'd be a fantastic piece of literature and here's hoping it is. I actually kind of want to read it now just to see. Oh and the European landscapes are gorgeous, as always - another treat to this gem of a movie.

RATING: 8/10  Man, that seemed like a really crappy review, but this one was a hard one to try and put into words. Definitely one that needs to be experienced.


July 12, 2014  12:32pm

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