The Tin Drum (Germany, 1979)


Figure 1.--The available stills suggest that the costuming such as this Hitler Youth musicians at some NAZI clebration was quite accuarte.

The Tin Drum is a stunning drama about a boy's reaction to the thugish violence of NAZI Germany. The movie was a West German-French production. It is a rather fatheful production of GŁnter Grass' masterpiece. Young Oskar from the age of 3 years refuses to grow. Depicts a young boy's view of a depressing moment in history; Nazi Germany. At age 3, he purposefully maims himself so that he will not grow to be an adult. As planned, he remains a midget the rest of his life and views the grotesque adult world through a child's eyes. Disturbing allegorical look at the outcasts of society. Directed by Volker Schlondorff. The director was Volker Schlondorff. The stars were Mario Adorf and Angela Winkler and featured David Bennent as the boy.

Filmography

The movie was a West German-French production. Critics hailed the 1979 Volker Schlondorff film--an allegory for the horrors of the NAZI regime--as a classic of the German New Cinema. It won an Oscar for best foreign film and shared the grand prize at Cannes. Directed by Volker Schlondorff. The director was Volker Schlondorff. The stars were Mario Adorf and Angela Winkler and featured David Bennent as the boy.

The Book

The Tin Drum is a stunning drama about a boy's reaction to the thugish violence of NAZI Germany. Young Oskar from the age of 3 years refuses to grow. Depicts a young boy's view of a depressing moment in history; Nazi Germany. At age 3, he purposefully maims himself so that he will not grow to be an adult. As planned, he remains a midget the rest of his life and views the grotesque adult world through a child's eyes. The movie is a grimly parodic account of Germany's descent into madness He published the book in 1959. A classic work, universally acclaimed as the greatest German novel written since the end of World War II.

GŁnter Grass

German poet, novelist, playwright, sculptor, and printmaker who, with his extraordinary first novel Die Blechtrommel (1959; The Tin Drum), became the literary spokesman for the German generation that grew up in the Nazi era and survived the war. In 1999 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his accomplishments. In his native Danzig, Grass passed through the Hitler Youth movement, was drafted at 16, wounded in battle, and became a prisoner of war. The Tin Drum was the first of GŁnter Grass' works attempting to understand what happened in Germany during and after the NAZI nightmare. It was recognized as a great woirk, but was very controversial in Germany. The book was followed by a series of other novels, plays, articles, and even poems. His works have continued to be controversial in Germany. His novel Too Far Afield received scathing reviews. Grass in the book criticized the unification of East and West Germany, comparng it to the NAZI Anschluss of Austria in 1938. This was in part because it was the West (Federal Republic) absorbing the East and not a merger of equals. Another 1990s book My Century received mixed reviews. His latest book, Crabwalk addresses the issue of German suffering during World War II, a subject that German authors are just beginning to seriously address. Grass stunned the workd when he announced he had served in the Waffen-SS. Now the Waffen-SS was not the same as the SS, but they were resonsible for terrible attrocities. The Waffen-SS also made up about half the Einsatzgruppen killer groups. It is not known just wht his service involved. Grass hads not limited himself to writing about German suffering during the War, but has also adopted the modern language of anti-Semites. He is very critical of Israel. Now criticizing Israel is not the same as anti-Semitism, but it is very notable that never do we here Grass criticising the Iranin Mullas or Arab terror grouos like Hamas and Hesbolah. His poem, 'Wht must be said' (2012) is an exercize in modern anti-Semitism. [Joffe]

Hitler Youth

I haven't seen the film, so am not sure how the Hitler Youth are depicted. The available still suggest that the costuming was quite accuarte.


Figure 2.--.

American Controversy

Despite the critical acclaim launded on The Tin Drum, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the movie was obscene--apparently not a connoisseur. District Judge Richard Freeman in June 1997 ruled that classic or not, Tin Drum was obscene. Based on his decision, Oklahoma City police have raided six video stores, one home and the local library and seized copies of the movie. The videos will reportedly be destroyed. Those seizures have ticked off First Amendment fans, who are now calling for a federal investigation. "This kind of insensitive disregard of our fundamental rights of expression and free speech is outrageous," said Joann Bell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma. Bell said the ACLU "received several complaints from citizens whose homes were violated without a search warrant last evening as the police went to private homes to confiscate copies of this video." According to Bell, video stores made their rental records available to police, who then tracked down those renting Tin Drum. Police said they only took a copy of the film from one home, that of Michael Canfield, an ACLU official who was reviewing the movie. Besides, said the cops, we were just following the judge's order. Freeman, who made his declaration Wednesday, claimed he was handcuffed by Oklahoma law, which defines obscenity as any depiction of a person under 18, or anyone portraying someone under 18, having sex. "Frankly, as long as the statute is the way it is, I couldn't do anything else," the judge said. The Tin Drum, or Die Blechtrommel, is Schlondorff's take on the Gunter Grass novel about Nazi Germany as seen through a young boy's eyes. The boy decides to arrest his development and just bang his tin drum to protest the follies of adults. It includes one scene where the boy--about age 7--has an experience which upset the Oklahoma judge. The ever-enlightened Oklahoma County D.A., Bob Macy, says he will press charges against anyone found with the video from now on. Police will also continue their crackdown--a move local ACLU head Bell likened to "book burnings organized by Hitler's Gestapo". "We cannot sit back silently while this coalition of religious fanatics and pliant law enforcement officials repeal the Bill of Rights," she added.

Other Hitler Youth Movies

Information on several other Hitler Youth films, several made in Germany, are avialable on HBC. The first such film was made in Germany, Hitler Jugend Quex. While it looks rather hokey to us today, it had a powerful impact in mid-1930s Germany. The Hitler Youth also played a prominent role in the classic propaganda film of all time--Triumph of the Will.

Sources

Joffe, Josef. 'Gunter Grass's tin ear,' The Wall Street Journal (August 17, 2012), p. A13. Joffe is the editor of Hamburg's Der Zeit.






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Created: September 3, 2000
Last updated: 9:26 PM 7/4/2012