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The Tin Drum (film): Wikis


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The Tin Drum

original movie poster
Directed by Volker Schlöndorff
Produced by Franz Seitz
Anatole Dauman
Written by Volker Schlöndorff
Jean-Claude Carrière
Franz Seitz
Adapted from the Novel The Tin Drum by Gunther Grass
Starring Mario Adorf
Angela Winkler
David Bennent
Katharina Thalbach
Charles Aznavour
Release date(s) West Germany May 3, 1979
United States 11 April 1980
Running time 142 min
Country  Germany
Language German

The Tin Drum (German: Die Blechtrommel) is a 1979 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by G√ľnter Grass. It was directed and co-written by Volker Schl√∂ndorff. Stylistically it is a black comedy.

The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival[1] and the 1979 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.


Plot summary

David Bennent plays Oskar, the young son of a Kashubian family in a rural area of the Free City of Danzig, circa 1925. He humourously explains his lineage which is illustrated by the camera, explaining how his grandfather being pursued by police, hid under his grandmother's skirts in a potato field. The film also gives a "childs-eye view" of his own birth, from the womb out, and he explains his displeasure at being born.

On his third birthday, Oskar receives a shiny new tin drum. At this point, rather than mature into one of the miserable specimens of grown-up humanity that he sees around him, he vows never to get any bigger. He throws himself down the basement stairs...and stops growing. Whenever the world around him becomes too much to bear, the boy begins to hammer on his drum; should anyone try to take the toy away from him, he emits an ear-piercing scream that shatters glass. As Germany evolves towards Nazism and war in the 1930s and 1940s, the unaging Oskar continues savagely beating his drum. Only after the Soviet invasion at the end of the war, when his only surviving family member is killed, does he decide to grow up.

A memorable scene is his father catching eels on the beach, using a horses head to trap them. His mother refuses to eat them, and is reserved the same fish day after day. Eventually she gives in but by this time the effects are fatal.


The Tin Drum was one of the most financially successful German films of the 1970s. It won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and was jointly awarded the 1979 Palme d'Or at Cannes, along with Apocalypse Now.


The film features a scene in which Bennent, then 11 years old and playing a stunted 16-year-old, licks effervescent powder (Ahoj-Brause, a German brand of sherbet) from the navel, and performs oral sex on a 16-year-old girl, and eventually has intercourse with her (played by actress Katharina Thalbach, who was 24 years old at the time).

In 1980, the film version of The Tin Drum was first cut, and then banned as child pornography by the Ontario Censor Board in Canada.[2]

Similarly, on June 25, 1997, it was banned following a ruling made by State District Court Judge Richard Freeman, who had reportedly only viewed a single isolated scene of the film, The Tin Drum was banned from Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, citing the state's obscenity laws for portraying underage sexuality. All copies in Oklahoma City were likewise confiscated and at least one person who had rented the film on video tape was threatened with prosecution. Michael Camfield, leader of a local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit against the police department on July 4, 1997, alleging that the tape had been illegally confiscated and his rights infringed.

This led to a high-profile series of hearings on the film's merits as a whole versus the controversial scene, and the role of the judge as censor. The film emerged vindicated and most copies were returned within a few months.[3][4] By 2001, all the cases had been settled and the film is legally available in Oklahoma County. This incident was covered in the documentary film Banned in Oklahoma which is included in the 2004 Criterion Collection DVD release of The Tin Drum[5].



External links

Preceded by
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Succeeded by
Moscow Does not Believe in Tears

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