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Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) Reviews

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Super Reviewer

January 31, 2013
A little German boy decides to stop growing up at 3 and a half years old, then watches as Hitler rises to power. A classic comic nightmare about "little people's" acquiescence to Nazism.
Lucas M

Super Reviewer

June 8, 2012
Darkly humor, surrealism and controversial, Die Blechtrommel is a dazzing, entertaning and unique film that bring to us a great direction, just like the screenplay and David Bennent's performance. One of the best films that I ever saw and also one of the most shocking. Fresh.
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

June 25, 2007
Mischievous, visually stunning, hilarious and compelling. quite an achievement adapting GÃ 1/4nter Grass' novel.
Jan Marc M

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2011
Disturbing and notorious, The Tin Drum introduces a three-year-old who opted to stay in infancy because of disenchantment with maturity. A controversial Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm recipient that covers the social, the political, and the historical in World War II, Germany and Poland. Strictly for mature audiences only.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 30, 2009
Absurd but beautiful. Wonderfully directed by Schlondorff and an amazing turn from a young David Bennent. It?s a tough one to explain so I recommend you watch it!

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2009
Notorious for once being banned in both Oklahoma City and Ontario, The Tin Drum chronicles one little boy's bizarre response to the bizarre world in which he resides.

Oskar is a German child who's father might be his mother's husband or might be his uncle Jan, who is actually his mother's cousin. At the age of three Oskar is so disenchanted with adults and their immoral behavior that he decides to stop growing. I can only assume that the scene in which Oskar, who is chronologically 16 but looks 3, played by an actor who was actually 11, has sex with a girl who is 16, played by an actress who was actually 21, is what sparked the controversy(?). Later, that same girl gives birth to a baby boy who might be Oskar's son or might be his brother. All this comes after Oskar is forced to drink toad soup that other kids have peed in. The whole plot is about as twisted as a Texas family tree. Can you believe that someone wanted to ban this stuff!?

Super Reviewer

November 13, 2008
a great surreal adaptation of a wonderfully bizarre novel. i can't imagine anyone else in the part of oskar. covers about the first 2/3 of the book, which i also recommend :)
Michael S

Super Reviewer

March 20, 2007
This film really disturbs me, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a masterful and unforgetable piece of work.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2006
Incredibly great, bizarre and sometimes disturbing.
Byron B

Super Reviewer

February 19, 2007
A bit like a reverse Benjamin Button. David Bennent is the extremely quirky Oskar, who chooses not to grow up, obsesses over his drum, and observes the madness of war. The story starts with Oskar's grandmother and traces the politics of racial and national divides in Europe from World War I to World War II. Oskar's mother loves two men. This could be symbolic, if you dig deep enough. Oskar meets some little people performing in a circus. Though the actor was 11 when playing the role, eventually Oskar enters his 20s and pursues romance and a career as an entertainer for the German army. It is a strange tale on the surface, but deals with serious issues.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

August 8, 2014
"Ich spielte meine trommel für ihn, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum!" Peculiar how this kid really does stay a little drummer boy, no matter how extensively the film covers his life, like, in real time, but it's not entirely as perky as a Christmas carol, by which I mean this film isn't especially lively in pacing. Now, in terms of tone, yeah, this is fairly colorful, or at least about as colorful as you can make comedy this black, and I don't guess that's too surprising, seeing as how this film is partly presented to you by Yugoslavia. 1995's "Underground" was not the first time Yugoslavia showed off how it can make the horrors of WWII fun, although this film is mainly German, which can make it either grittier or, well, more surreal. Specifically, this film is West German, so if it's going to remind people about what got the Krauts so thrown all over the place, it might want to inspire a few chuckles to go with the tears, because nothing is funnier than a kid and his drum trying to reason with Nazis. He might not have been able to bring a corrupt country to light, but he did enlighten me to the fact that a live album by David Gilmour was not the only interesting thing involving Gdańsk since WWII. So yeah, this film is pretty entertaining, but it's also too long, at least to comfortably juggle everything that's going on.

Although the jarring focal inconsistencies peak with an intro which takes too long to introduce, not the lead, but the lead's family, this film's narrative is episodic in structure, and storytelling was always going to find difficulty in making the transitions between layers organic. The length of the final product exacerbates the challenge, as the excessiveness to the structuring further drags out each segment, until the film's focus goes aimless, if not falls into unevenness, with the tone of the film. Dramatic tensions, if not the occasional deeply disturbing image (Oh, that beached horse head scene just had to give Francis Ford Coppola the chills) and, for that matter, story content (Who says that an eleven-year-old is too young to portray a sexual relationship), punctuate a colorfully comic attitude which defuses dramatic momentum about as much as storytelling's at least keeping consistent in some sort of cheesiness. The humor and fluff are, of course, the cheesiest aspects of the film, at least when they fall flat as borderline overwrought, but even the dramatics, however limited, get melodramatic, being both too far out there to buy, and too grounded to be embraced as part of the film's questionable surrealism. About as much as anything, this film is surreal, and often too much so, with anything from a lead whose inability to grow up is bizarre, and whose obsession with drumming and ability to scream in a glass-shattering register are gratingly obnoxious, to many other over-the-top touches which are ostensibly satirical, but ultimately too questionable for you to get a grip on substance, in concept, without all of the overstylized directorial touches which exacerbate the surrealism. I guess you could say that there are natural shortcomings here, but the subject matter itself is actually sweepingly worthy, it's just that the ideas behind the handling of this film are so problematic, whether they apply to focus, or pacing, or tone. The final product is hard to get invested in, but with patience, you'd be pressed to not be entertained, maybe even immersed, through solid art direction.

This period piece actually doesn't pay much mind to the changes in the world surrounding the lead, but if the film does make an attempt to sell you on its setting, then Nikos Perakis' art direction does what it can to draw you in, even if it plays only a light role in bringing life to this film's subject matter. You have to take what you can get, because even though the narrative is over-the-top with its surrealism and other fluffy aspects, the themes and layers behind it are quite worthy, with an audaciously offbeat look at coming of age, and war, as well as a potential for dramatic weight that doesn't appear to be within the vision of Volker Schlöndorff, Jean-Claude Carrière and Franz Seitz. No, this screenwriting trio is more focused on surreal style and dark humor that primarily satirizes the respectable formula for the usual wartime biopic, and that's a shame, for so much depth is betrayed by the questionable fluff, in addition to the bloating and inconsistencies in focus and tone, and yet, the script still carries its highlights, in colorful humor and characterization, livening things up and holding your attention. Really, enough of your attention ought to be held by the sheer originality of this script, which goes to such great lengths to freshen things up that it ends up cheesing things up, but is still morbidly interesting, with moments of depth that go anchored by the performances. Now, everyone has charisma, if not dramatic effectiveness, but it ultimately comes down to the very young lead of David Bennent, who is handed a bizarre role and amazingly manages to make it work by subtly, but surely selling the emotional and mental maturing of the Oskar Matzerath character, and how it is nonetheless stunted by a lack of physical maturing. This performance is mighty endearing, but it perhaps wouldn't be so much so if it wasn't so well-orchestrated by Schlöndorff's performance as director, because no matter how ludicrous the film is, Schlöndorff sells what he can, at least in the sense that his tongue-in-cheek attitude allows you to embrace plenty of the surrealism in the context of this plot, and therefore embrace the heights in drama. At the very least, Schlöndorff never allows this problematically paced affair limp too far out, drawing your attention to what is truly done right in this drama by keeping entertainment value consistent, even if that's the only thing kept consistent in this somewhat misguided dark comedy.

All in all, focus gets to be inconsistent through all of the episodic and draggy storytelling, while tonal inconsistencies that at least keep consistent in cheesiness, and an already questionable story and style concept make it too hard to take the final product seriously enough for it to transcend underwhelmingness, but through immersive art direction, intriguing subject matter, uniquely colorful writing, charismatic and convincing acting, - especially from lead David Bennent - and lively direction, Volker Schlöndorff's "The Tin Drum" stands as an entertaining and sometimes effective, if questionably conceived satire on coming of age during wartime.

2.5/5 - Fair
Andrew F

Super Reviewer

May 3, 2009
Though The Tin Drum is probably one of the strangest films I have ever seen, I still liked it for its ingenuity and humor.
Ivan D

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2010
Contrary to what many people say about this film, it was not that disturbing amidst the Nazisms involved, but there were sequences that disgusted me and left me in complete bewilderment that a question popped in my head while I watch this film: "What the hell am I watching?" Yes, it was about a boy silently rebelling about the madness around him, using his tin drum, but apart from that, the film did not connect with me in any way. "The Tin Drum" is virtually plotless, with successions of episodic scenes involving the enigmatic protagonist. The film contained great cinematography and music, but it was, overall, an emotionless viewing experience for me.
June 1, 2013
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April 30, 2013
An intense, absurd, yet beautiful film of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany seen through the eyes of an intelligent yet quirky boy who refuses to grow up and give up his little drum.
September 21, 2011
I've never been so creeped out and engaged in a film as this. The little boy/midget person is FRIGHTENING. Yet kind of endearing. I enjoyed this, yet I know I will never try and see it again.
September 1, 2007
I always wished I could squeeze my head whenever I felt myself getting older. See this before u die.
May 1, 2007
Ecellent WWII fim. A look into human psyche from a dark humor stand. Kunter Grass couln;t be happier.
April 4, 2007
I can't get those disturbing scenes out of my head. The eels inside a horses decapitated head. Street kids forcing Oskar to drink a pee soup. Oskar wanting to kill his son. Blech, gross. And I was up to here with that stupid boys yelling. *Shudders* There were some humorous scenes though...
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