THE TIN DRUM
This adaptation of The Tin Drum was made by Volker Schlondorff. It is an interesting film, although one where Schlondorff does not always seem entirely at ease with Gunther Grasss rich vein of black and surrealist humour. Weird womb symbolism seems to lurk in every conceivable corner and the Nazi movement casts a giant shadow over the drama but you are never entirely sure what point Schlondorff is trying to make with the film. While the book acts as a potent critique of the times, it is not clear in the film what that critique actually is. Certainly, as a film, it is a story that seems longer than it should, especially the sequences with the dwarf circus troupe. (Even then, Schlondorff only filmed half of the book and left out Oskars story following the War).
However, there are other times that Volker Schlondorff and Gunther Grass make oddly compatible bedfellows. Schlondorff packs his streets with an extraordinary degree of colour and detail and takes to the material with a sensational visual interpretation the scene where David Bennents scream shatters every window in a square is visually stunning and a sequence in which Bennents drumming offsets a band, turning a Brownshirt march into a dance, is a terrific piece of choreography. There is a considerable element of grotesquery to the film, none more so than the scenes of the mother forcing herself to eat the eel and the use of a severed horses head as fishing bait. The film gets considerable support in the wild-eyed on-edge performance of the incredible David Bennent.
The Tin Drum won a host of Best Foreign Film awards in the year it came out, respectively at the Oscars, the L.A. Film Critics and The National Board of Review, as well as receiving the Palme dOr at the Cannes festival. Volker Schlondorff went onto to make various other films, including the disappointing adaptation of Margaret Atwoods feminist dystopia The Handmaids Tale (1990), and has never made anything else that has been greeted with the acclaim of The Tin Drum. David Bennent is an actor who should have become a major international talent but instead languishes in German repertory theatre. His one other performance of note was as the androgynous elf in Ridley Scotts underrated Legend (1985).