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Reviews & Ratings for
The Tin Drum More at IMDbPro »Die Blechtrommel (original title)

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77 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

Grotesque yet beautiful

9/10
Author: Oliver Blomqvist (oblomqvist@hotmail.com) from Helsinki, Finland
21 January 1999

Having read the greater-than-life novel by Günther Grass, this film is an interesting viewing for many reasons. Reason number 1: the most important reason is of course, how on earth did they manage to get anyone to play Oskar? The director has shown us a stroke of geniosity by casting a 12-year old boy as Oskar, who besides is a brilliant actor (I wonder whatever became of him). Reason number two: how could anyone ever visualize the grotesque and chaotic scenes in the book? Once again the director comes up with something brilliant, he makes the scenes as graphic as possible, he doesn't care about the MPAA, he doesn't care about movie-watchers with heart problems, and he's not afraid of overdoing anything. He puts as much force and effort in the scenes as possible, and they come out brilliantly. Reason number 3: How does he capture the moods of the multi-layered book? He simply stays very faithful to the books text and uses camera angles, lighting effects and music perfectly to accompany the visions of Günther Grass. Those are the most apparent reasons and because of those, the film is brilliant. The only flaw is leaving the story unfinished (although, the ones who never read the book, won't notice that). Altogether, an interesting, stylish and rewarding film experience.

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51 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Strangely Beautiful

10/10
Author: Ymir4 from WA
23 September 2003

"That day, thinking about the grown-up world and my own future, I decided to call a halt. To stop growing then and there and remain a three-year-old, a gnome, once and for all"

Goodness, what a marvel this film is! It is certainly the greatest film from Germany that I have seen yet. Winner of the 1979 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, "The Tin Drum" follows the life of a boy named Oskar. After seeing how ludicrous adults act, Oskar decides to stop his growth, and stay three years old forever by falling down the stairs. He succeeds, and the fall has stopped his growth. Aside from the hault of growth, the fall eqips him with two special powers that he regularly manifests. The lesser of these two powers, is repeatedly pounding his tin drum, which he absolutely refuses to let go of. Oskar's undeniable power is to let out a high pitched shriek that will shatter any glass he directs it at. Does it sound strange? Well, the film is much stranger, but also much more beautiful than my description.

The film follows our little Oscar over a period of around two decades, through World War II in Germany. We follow Oskar through his many sexual, emotional, tragic, funny, and beautiful exploits. An absolutely important credit must be given to actor David Bennett, who plays young Oskar. He portrays Oskar as an infant, as a three year-old, as a six year-old, as a twelve year-old, as a 16 year-old, as a 21 year-old...well, you get the picture. Bennett was only 11 at the time, and his performance is very impressive.

I haven't seen very many German films from the last thirty years, but most of the ones I have seen (the excellent "Vanishing," and the immensely mediocre "White Rose") haven't had very good scores. "The Tin Drum" has a very slight, but very servicable, score by the famous Maurice Jarre. The score has an emotional theme played in only a few scenes (notably, the ending), it also has an innocent little music box theme, and surprisingly a cool waltz for scenes involving members of the circus (a big part of the second-half of the film). A very good score. To my knowledge, it was released on LP when the film was released, and on a CD pressed in Japan sometime in the 90's. I read that the (sadly out of print) Kino DVD includes the isolated score as an extra.

It's an excellent film that I strongly connected with, but I can see many people not liking it, it is VERY strange, but I am somebody who has always found VERY strange things extremely beautiful, and "The Tin Drum" is no exception. Over-all, I consider this film a classic, and I'll once again state that it is certainly the greatest film from Germany that I have seen yet.

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42 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Me and my drum

10/10
Author: francois chevallier (francheval@noos.fr) from Paris, France
12 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Germans are unsurpassed when it comes to depict whatever is grotesque, bizarre, monstrous or disturbing. This tendency was best illustrated by the trend called "expressionism", an art movement of the nineteen twenties that applied to painting (Dix, Grosz), cinema (Fritz Lang, Murnau) and theatre (Bertold Brecht's "Threepenny opera"). The movement was dismissed by the Nazis as "degenerate art" and abruptly ended with Hitler's rise to power. As a movie, "The Tin Drum" is a unique modern tribute to expressionism.

Before it was adapted for screen, "The Tin Drum" was already a classic of German modern novel. The author, Gunther Grass, was born in Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland's major port on the Baltic Sea (where the "Solidarnosc" movement actually appeared the very year the movie was released). During the interwar period, Danzig was officially a "free city", but was claimed both by Germany and Poland, and it was the German invasion of Danzig that was the official cause for the outbreak of World War II. So no wonder the hero of "The Tin Drum", little Oscar, is born to a German mother and two different fathers, a Pole (the natural one) and a German (the adoptive one).

When little Oscar is born, his mother predicts that when he turns three, he will be given a tin drum. Prediction comes true, as little Oscar turns out to be a very naughty sort of Peter Pan. Disgusted by the world of adults around him, he attempts suicide at age three by jumping from the top of the cellar staircase. He survives but his growth is stopped. The eerie gnome and his fellow drum become inseparable, and if one ever tries, little Oscar has a lethal weapon : he can shout so shrill that his voice breaks any glass around. So don't mess with little Oscar, who keeps drumming and drumming for any reason, and remains a sarcastic and outcast witness of his time : the rise and fall of Nazism.

The Third Reich is depicted here as background for Oscar's adventures. Since he can't attend school because he will never give up his drum, he makes a career in a troop of circus midgets where his glass-breaking talents can bloom. Most of the time, Nazism is mocked here as a ridiculous farce with a humor à la Lubitsch. At heart though, "The Tin Drum" is far from being just a satire, as tragedy is often underlying under the dark humor. After little Oscar has lost his two fathers at age twenty one, he decides to bury his fetish toy in a pit, and embarks on a westbound refugee train as Germans are massively evicted of their former eastern territories.

This movie has an unusual amount of excellent scenes, but I'd rather not mention them, because there are just too many, and the surprise effect makes them all the more grasping. Needless to say that several of them deal with Oscar's glass-breaking exploits, which soon develop on a massive scale. Many of them are also voluntarily disgusting, but I guess it's the name of the game here. Should you eat before or after seeing this? In case you don't eat before, you might not feel very hungry afterwards, and if you do... well, if you're faint of stomach, better you avoid this movie anyway.

If you get a chance and you don't mind subtitles, the original version seems like a good option. Little David Bennent's mischievous and cringing voice is an excellent performance, and gets enhanced by the rasping sound of the German language. The movie is almost two and a half hours long, and if it's no wonder that many will find it absurd or offending, it is neither slow or boring

A well deserved Palme d'Or in Cannes for 1979.

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55 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

Absorbing and Thought Provoking

Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
5 August 2002

"That day, thinking about the grown-up world and my own future, I decided to call a halt. To stop growing then and there and remain a three-year-old, a gnome, once and for all" - Oskar Metzertath

The Tin Drum is based on Gunter Grass's highly acclaimed novel which used magic realism to capture the madness of war, and the folly of the people who made it possible. This movie only tackles the first two sections of the novel, leaving out the post-war events. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign film in 1980, and the Palm d'Or at Cannes. It was also banned in Oklahoma as "child pornography". Despite moments of brilliance, The Tin Drum left me feeling incomplete and curiously unmoved.

It is a very different kind of film from the others I saw this week, using satire and surrealism to explore people's reactions during the period from 1939 to 1945. It seems to be saying that it is all right to stop growing (that is, participating in the world) as a protest against the cynicism and corruption of the adult world. The setting for the majority of the film, Danzig (now Gdansk) is a major northern port town in Poland. Danzig was a free and independent city until September 1, 1939, when it became the first region taken by Germany at the outset of WWII. After the war, Danzig became a part of Poland again.

The Tin Drum is the story of Oskar Matzerath, a boy who grows up in Eastern Germany before and during World War II. Oskar decides the only way to protest being part of the adult world is by banging on his drum and remaining a child forever. This is his rebuttal of society and his tin drum is his protest against the mentality of his family and neighborhood, or perhaps against all passive people in Nazi Germany at that time. Oskar tries to shock the world out of its inhumanity. His life reflects Germany's struggle to free itself from its own dream of Teutonic superiority and find peace in the national soul.

David Bennent as Oskar gives an outstanding performance, creating a character that is both haunting and frightening. He looks like a little man in a child's body but his eyes are deep and have a very knowing look that seemed to be looking right through me.

Oskar is not a cute little updated version of Peter Pan. Since age three (when he was given his first tin drum), Oskar can scream with such a high pitch that he can shatter any piece of glass. He even controls his scream to the point where he can break windows on the other side of the city, or etch writing into glass. Oskar uses his ability to manipulate and control the adult world, often using vicious and cynical snide comments about the insanity around him. At one point, he disrupts a Nazi rally by changing the beat of his tin drum to the Blue Danube which the band then follows. The ensuing scene where the crowd breaks into a dance and the rain comes down leaving the Nazi soldiers bewildered is one of the best in the film.

I found the scenes where Oskar joins a midget troupe and finds loving companions of his own kind to be very tender and moving. However, the film became morally ambiguous for me when Oskar and his troupe decide to entertain the Nazi soldiers at the front lines. Schlondorff never really makes it clear what his motivations are and Oskar's actions seems to contradict his essentially anarchist protest for most of the film. The Tin Drum also contains some objectionable scenes of childhood sexuality and grotesque depictions of slithering eels being caught using a severed horse head as bait. The result, needless to say, is stomach churning.

I found The Tin Drum to be absorbing and thought provoking yet, despite moments of brilliance, for me it did not add up to a totally satisfying experience.

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43 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

A smart movie powered by David Bennent's performance

10/10
Author: john zapata (johnpaulzpt@yahoo.com) from los angeles, CA
13 May 2002

Oskar is a young man in World War II Germany who refuses to grow up when he was three years old. He deliberately let himself fall on a stair to injure himself and stop his growth. Oskar's refusal to grow and release his tin drum is an obvious metaphor about refusing the Nazi regime. This is made more obvious since he finally decided to grow and let go of his drum after the Nazi's defeat.

The Tin Drum is based on a celebrated novel by German author Gunter Grass. Director Volker Schlöndorff brings it to life with profound elegance and intellectual humor. Made in 1979, in the middle of the German film renaissance, The Tin Drum pokes fun at the Nazi regime and at the same time presents an unforgettable and often hilarious story.

The movie begins in the late 19th century when Oskar's grandmother helps his grandfather to escape German soldiers by letting him hide under her skirt. It is also where Oskar's mother Agnes (Angela Winkler) is conceived. Agnes grows up during the First World War and marries a man named Alfred Matzerath (Mario Adorf). She begins to have an affair with her cousin Jan Bronski, while Oskar slowly becomes aware of their relationship.

David Bennent's performance as Oskar is simply amazing. He was about 12 years old at the time, and he plays Oskar from childhood to his 20s. Although Oskar's physical appearance never changes. We can see his aging process through Bennent's performance. Oskar's movement changes; he begins to become more mature and discover the world around him. Bennent plays the character with an impressive level of believability and intellectual maturity.

The Tin Drum reminded me of one of my favorite movies-Forrest Gump. Both movies have central characters that are physically and mentally disabled, and both manage to have an interesting journey life. Both movies pass through an important historical event, with both heroes getting involved. The Tin Drum is not quite in the same league as Forrest Gump, but it still amazed and captivated me from beginning to end.

The Tin Drum contains some really grotesque scenes. One scene in particular is when they show a fisherman using a dead horse's head as bait for eels. The fisherman removes the eels one by one from the horse's head, while Agnes vomits in disgust. To balance it out, the movie also contains moments of pure joy. I love the sequence where Oskar's drumming influences a band to change their music form a German march to Strauss' The Blue Danube. A Nazi officer screams in disgust, while the crowd joins together and dances.

I enjoy watching intelligent satires. I laughed out loud a lot of times in this movie and I relished its lush story. The movie deals with many things, including warfare, adultery, and religion. It may be a little too long for some people at 140 minutes, but for me, no good movie is too long. The Tin Drum contains astonishing images powered by remarkable acting. It may be hard to find on video, but I'm sure it's worth the trouble.

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37 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

One of the most memorable films of all time

8/10
Author: alexlehmann4 from Norway
11 April 2005

Die Blechtrommel, based on the highly acclaimed German novel by the same name. Oscar is 3 years old. For his birthday he gets a tin drum. He sees how grown ups act, (this is during the rise of the Nazi Party) and he decides to stop growing.

The film is filled with moral ethics and symbolism. The tin drum Oscar always drums on is a symbol of his protest against the cruelty that grown ups create, not to mention the rise of Nazism. Die Blechtrommel even has large scenes that are only for symbolism. It is probably one of the most important German films since WW2. Somehow, the German make the best films that decipher Nazism and WW2 (like Stalingrad and the new Der Untergang) which very clearly shows their self awareness. I think Die Blechtrommel is one of the finest examples of this.

It is often quite absurd this film, one of the most memorable scenes is when Oscar watches a Nazi rally. As an officer is marching through the crowd, the orchestra is playing a march. Oscar starts playing his drum, and make all the musicians play false, and after a while they all start to play "An der Schönen blauen Donau" and the crowd starts to dance.

Die Blechtrommel is one of the most memorable films ever, whet ever you liked it or not. Some scenes are very sick, and i do not encourage people who don't have a stomach for strong films to see this. For other film lovers though, this is one of the greatest films ever.

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24 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Beautifully disturbing

8/10
Author: ARossMartin from Palm Springs
15 July 2006

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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30 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Extraordinary Film making.

10/10
Author: (victor7754@hotmail.com)
5 June 2005

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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21 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Sometimes great, sometimes weak, but definitely memorable

7/10
Author: Tito-8 from North Bay, Ontario
3 October 1999

For me, this was definitely a hit-and-miss film, but luckily, most of the good things about this movie are also quite memorable. This is a weird movie, for better or for worse, but because it is so strange, there is absolutely no way that you will find this predictable. In fact, if you know little or nothing about this movie, keep it that way so that you can appreciate each odd twist when you watch it for the first time. I found the movie to be somewhat overlong, and the best parts of the story tended to be earlier in the film, but much of this picture is top-notch. I think most people would agree that love it or hate it, this is certainly a film that you won't soon forget.

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18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

A haunting movie ...

8/10
Author: Brent (beam_er) from California
22 February 2004

I saw this flick many years ago, and there are images from this movie I shall probably take with me to the grave.

Things I saw in this movie that vividly stuck in my brain are such things as a huge eel being pulled out of a severed horses head that was just dragged from the sea on a rope, a soldier having carnal knowledge with a lady in the middle of a field while being hunted by another soldier, a young boy spitting into a hand of a young girl ...

And I could go on. This movie I found to be extremely unique and varied in many ways. I don't know that I can really recommend this movie all in all, but if you do watch it, be prepared for a very unique experience film wise.

Beamer

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