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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
In June 1997, at the urging of a Christian fundamentalist group and after viewing only a few isolated scenes, an Oklahoma County District Court judge declared that this film contained child pornography (as defined by Oklahoma's obscenity laws) and as such was illegal. Without obtaining the necessary search warrants or court orders, police in Oklahoma City confiscated all copies of the film from libraries and rental outlets. They intimidated video store managers into supplying them with the addresses of those currently renting the movie, went to those homes, and confiscated those tapes as well. The local District Attorney declared that anyone possessing a copy of the movie would be arrested. Within weeks the D.A. was forced to back down on this statement, and by December most of the seized videos had been returned. By October of 1998, over the course of rulings in several related lawsuits, the U.S. federal courts found that the confiscation of the tapes had been unconstitutional, and ruled that the movie did not violate Oklahoma's state laws. The U.S. Court of Appeals closed the final case in May 2001, and the movie is once again available for rental in Oklahoma County. 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 »
It's been a while since I've seen this German film but I am still struck by key images in the film and the overall tone set forth casually against a backdrop of the chaos of Nazi Germany's rise and fall.
I do wonder how much of my love for this film is owed to the Gunter Grass novel on which it's based It's a quirky slab of magic realism to be sure, like the film, but I have no idea how closely it hews to the original.
The performances are nuanced and striking in places. The cinematography is appropriately dreary and the editing crisp and unadorned. The centerpiece though, is the performance by the child actor at the core of the film. How much is owed to his voice-over narrative, I don't know, but the man growing inside of the still-grown little boy was handled just beautifully.
It's a disturbing and strangely uplifting movie at once. I recommend it -- especially for those who have seen only black and white view of World War II and the typically American view of our adversaries in German.
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