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The Tin Drum (1979)

Die Blechtrommel (original title)
R | | Drama, War | 11 April 1980 (USA)
Danzig in the 1920s/1930s. Oskar Matzerath, son of a local dealer, is a most unusual boy. Equipped with full intellect right from his birth he decides at his third birthday not to grow up ... See full summary »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alfred Matzerath
Agnes Matzerath
Oskar Matzerath
Maria Matzerath
Jan Bronski
Tina Engel ...
Anna Koljaiczek (jung)
Berta Drews ...
Anna Koljaiczek
Roland Teubner ...
Joseph Koljaiczek
Tadeusz Kunikowski ...
Onkel Vinzenz
Lina Greff (as Andréa Ferreol)
Heinz Bennent ...
Ilse Pagé ...
Gretchen Scheffler
Werner Rehm ...
Käte Jaenicke ...
Mutter Truczinski
Helmut Brasch ...
Der Alte Heilandt (as Helmuth Brasch)


Danzig in the 1920s/1930s. Oskar Matzerath, son of a local dealer, is a most unusual boy. Equipped with full intellect right from his birth he decides at his third birthday not to grow up as he sees the crazy world around him at the eve of World War II. So he refuses the society and his tin drum symbolizes his protest against the middle-class mentality of his family and neighborhood, which stand for all passive people in Nazi Germany at that time. However, (almost) nobody listens to him, so the catastrophe goes on... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A savage, sweeping epic of society in chaos. [Video Australia] See more »


Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | | | |

Release Date:

11 April 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Tin Drum  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut) | (1980 cut)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)


| (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There are several references (on the English soundtrack/ subtitles) to 'Kashubians'. Jan Bronski is referred as a Kashubian by Alfred Matzerath. Kahsubia is an ethnic group, centred on north-central Poland, with the nominal capital being Gdansk (Danzig). Kashubians were considered by the Nazis as of German stock/ extraction. See more »


In one scene at the table Agnes is holding a fork with her left hand. On the next shot, she's holding the fork with her right hand. See more »


Agnes Matzerath: Don't expect me to touch your eels.
Alfred Matzerath: Don't put on airs.
Agnes Matzerath: I'll never eat fish again. Certainly not eels.
Alfred Matzerath: You've always eaten them, and you knew where they came from!
See more »


Referenced in Skylab (2011) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Extraordinary Film making.

The Tin Drum is Extraordinary. It captures the perverse side of the individual and the whole. Oskar is conscious inside the womb. He is a product of kissing cousins. He is an inbred. He is a product of a secret love affair. Oskar's expressions capture the evil that would soon devour his home state. It is set in World War II, Poland, a town called Danzig. A town with billowing smoke and towering spiral steeples. A Grimm's Faerie Tale.

The film plays out like a fantasy. To never grow up. The Tin Drum contains some of the most fantastic images found in a feature film; The shattering of the jar with the fetus; The cracking of the teachers glasses ; The eels oozing out of the horses head as the seagulls scream and Oskar bangs his drum. It was an incredible scene to read on the pages of Gunter Grass' novel but to see a filmmaker capture the words and turned it into a real life experience was awe-inspiring. Directed so well.

It is an erotic film. Intense scenes of desire. Primal. It captures the dark side of us all. The scenes where Oskar and his first adolescent love exchange spit and fizz are very perverse and effective.

Oskar does grow up as a man but remains the size of a 3 year old. He bangs his Tin Drum to drown out the craziness around him. World war II must have been horribly felt by those so close. The Nazi regime seemed so frightening. As a three year old who was conscious in the womb, how would Oskar see this direction that man, who once was three years old, has taken. What is wrong with us?

Overall, it is about the next generation wanting the previous one to get over itself and enjoy this paradise called Earth.

The film is mesmerizing. It is a beautiful piece of celluloid art. The magical realism is captured very effectively. How about doing One Hundred Years of Solitude? Here's your director.

Victor Nunnally BFA Film Production and Dramatic Theory, AA in Performing Arts

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