Starring: David Bennent, Angela Winkler, Daniel Olbrychski
Director: Volker Schlondorff
Before shooting began on The Tin Drum, director Volker Scholndorff gathered his cast and crew together and made an announcement that he expected their combined efforts to win the Palme D’Or at Cannes. They must have taken his words to heart because not only did it win the award but also an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and several others besides.
Adapted by Jean-Claude Carrier from Gunter Grass’s symbolic and semi-autobiographical novel about growing up in the northern Polish town of Danzig, the film focuses on an odd boy named Oskar and his stunted growth to the age of 21. In the book, Oskar is a dwarf who at just three years old forms an attachment to his tin drum and determines not to grow any more. 12 year old David Bennett is quite amazing as this wilful, wild eyed child who brazenly marches in front of a Nazi youth parade and later corrupts a mass meeting by drumming to a different beat beneath the bandstand.
The boy needs therapy, as did Germany’s lower middle class in the ’30s whose childish, attention seeking behaviour he represents, according to Grass. He wants power and screams his head off to get it, shattering all windows and glasses within earshot. Oskar’s conflicted mother Agnes (Angela Winkler) can’t seem to get through to him. He wont even speak to the toy shop owner (Charles Aznavour). Only the freaky circus midget Bebra (Fritz Hakl) can elicit conversation from the otherwise silent boy.
The Tin Drum is a remarkable period piece that was outlawed in Oklahoma nearly 20 years after its release for what the District County judge deem to be child pornography. In fact, it is simply poignant imagery of a young man trapped in a child’s body, refusing point blank to grow up.