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THE TIN DRUM

West Germany, 1979 (MIFF 1980, Programme 0)

Director: Volker Schlöndorff

Volker Schlondörff has been at the head of German production since the mid-sixties when the revival in quality commenced. His earlier films like Young Torless, The Lost Honour of Katherina Blum, The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, Coup de Grace and Summer Lightning have all been well-received at previous festivals. However, they can hardly be said to have prepared audiences for the blockbuster of The Tin Drum, the most expensive, ambitious and prized film made in Germany since the golden days of the late silent and early sound periods.

Gunther Grass giant novel on which the film is based appeared sensationally almost twenty years ago Schlondörff s film has made the same impact sharing the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1979 and winning the Oscar for best foreign-language film earlier this year.

The following notes are extracts from a review by Edmund Luft in International Film Guide.

"Under Schlondörff's direction, the film, with its rich profusion of faces and events belongs among the most impressive works of modern German cinema.

This cinematic epic contains many metaphors for its themes concerning both individual and masses; it is a grim account of the lower classes and dictatorship Oskar, the main character at the age of three arrests his external growth in order to escape the adult world. At the same time he definitely develops as a man. He is a critical observer, above all a master at the drum and a virtuoso in the shattering of glass with his voice. When protesting he screams at the highest sound level. Window panes, drinking glasses, watchdials and opera glasses shatter. He has many occasions to shrill his resistance during the goings-on in Danzig at the Hitler time Oskar cuts through the shameless and the murderous without a qualm.

Volker Schlöndorff has given birth to a powerful cinematic Leviathan, a work of Rabelaisian quality, a satire about the torment of life, and longing and dying. Like the novel, the film is of uneven strength, there are lean passages, yet the splendidly composed episodes predominate, such as the Cashubian potato-field scene when the fleeing grandfather Joseph, fathers Oskar s mother Agnes, under the smoke-clouded eye of two local policemen, or the grand sequence on the Nazi mass rallies, which devolve into a waltzing dream. An important point in the film's favour is the casting in the leading rote of ten-year-old David Bennent, a child of surprising sensitivity, precociousness, unaffectedness, and playfulness with an expression of existential tristesse in his eyes which is unforgettable".

Volker Schlondorff - Born 1939

Feature films — Young Torless (1965), Mord und Totschlag (1966), Michael Kohlhass (1967-8), Baal (1969) (for German television). The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach (1970), The Morals of Ruth Halbfass (1971), Summer Lightning (1972), A Night in Tyrol (1973) (for German television), The Lost Honour of Kathenna Blum (1975) Coup de Grace (1976), Germany in Autumn (1978) (in collaboration with other directors) The Tin Drum (1979), The Candidate (1980) (documentary in collaboration)

See also...

YOUNG TORLESS

This faithful screen version of Robert Musil's well-known novel is a major work of the new German cinema. Set in a remote Austrian boarding school before the First World War. the story centres on one ... More »

THE SUDDEN FORTUNE OF THE PEOPLE OF KOMBACH

Within the framework of a social parable, the film attempts to show how easily the structure of a society works to prevent the under-privileged from recognising their true position. Dealing with the ... More »

THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM

Katharina Blum is a divorcee, young, attractive and shy. At a party, she meets a young man and they go back to her apartment. In the morning, heavily armed police burst in, but the young man has ... More »

COUP DE GRÂCE

Coup de grace is set in an unnamed Baltic State, in 1919 After the Russian Revolution, the defeated Germans sent volunteer troops to join the Expeditionary Forces fighting the revolutionaries At that ... More »

SUMMER LIGHTNING

Summer Lightning is directed by Volker Schlondorff who has won an international reputation with films like Young Torless and The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, and it stars his wife ... More »

Dream Doll

A tale of unrequited love, based on Lamorisse's "The Red Balloon", made by the Oscar-winning Australian-born animator whose previous cartoons include "Henry Nine to Five", "Kama Sutra Rides Again" ... More »

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