The Tin Drum (1979) | Is this Palme d’Or winning black comedy Günter Grass’ greatest legacy?

The Tin Drum (1979)On 11 April, 1980, the Palme d’Or winning West German film The Tin Drum got its international release in the US, and would go on to win a Best Foreign Film Oscar at the 52nd Academy Awards (on 14 April). But it took over three decades for the original theatrical version and the Director’s Cut of the 1979-made film to finally become available for the home cinema market. In honour of the recent passing of Nobel laureate author, Günter Grass, 35-years (almost to the day) after the film’s release, here’s a look back at my 2012 post on the Arrow Academy HD dual format release.

Based on the 1959 first book in Günter Grass‘ acclaimed Danzig Trilogy, The Tin Drum follows the life of Oskar (David Bennent) who refuses to grow up after receiving a drum for his third birthday. With a scream that shatters glass, Oskar becomes so attached to the drum that anyone who tries to take it away from him soon feels his aural wrath. What follows is a child’s-eye perspective on the rise of Nazism in Oskar’s native Danzig, the ‘free city’ that was claimed by both Germany and Poland whose invasion in 1939 started World War II (and was also the birthplace of author Grass).


Darkly comic in spirit and awash with bizarre, grotesque imagery (some of which remains controversial), The Tin Drum, directed and co-written by Volker Schlöndorff, is like the perfect marriage of Pasolini politics, Buñuel satire and Fellini freak show. But it’s the standout performance of the 12-year-old Bennett that carries the film and stays with you forever.

The Arrow Academy 2012 release includes both High Definition and Standard Definition presentations of the original theatrical version, and a HD presentation of the Director’s Cut (on Blu-ray only). Both are approved by the late director, who also provides an audio commentary, and (on the Blu-ray only) an interview about the new cut. There’s also a comprehensive booklet with some scholarly writings for New German Cinema enthusiasts.



About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 21, 2015, in Classic World Cinema, Must See, Must-See, World Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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