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The Tin Drum(1979)
In the East Prussia of Danzig before the war, three-year-old Oskar Matzerath decides to stop growing--and succeeds--then finds playing his favorite toy, a tin drum, useful for tuning out things that annoy him, like his mother's dallying with their Polish boarder, the Nazi rallies his father attends, or even the advent of war itself.
For more about The Tin Drum and The Tin Drum Blu-ray release, see The Tin Drum Blu-ray Review
Starring: David Bennent, Mario Adorf, Daniel Olbrychski, Katharina Thalbach
Director: Volker Schlöndorff
» See full cast & crew
The Tin Drum Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 11, 2012
Winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Volker Schlondorff's "Die Blechtrommel" a.k.a "The Tin Drum" (1979) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Films. The supplemental features on this release include original theatrical trailer; audio commentary by director Volker Schlondorff; and three video interviews with the German director. The release also arrives with a comprehensive booklet featuring new writing on the film by George Lellis and Hans-Bernhard Moeller as well as extracts from Volker Schlondorff's diary and a writing by Jean-Claude Carriere and Gunter Grass illustrated with archival stills. In German, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Volker Schlondorff's The Tin Drum tells the story of a young boy, Oskar (David Bennent, Legend), who lives in a world in which adults are constantly at odds with each other. Incredibly annoyed by their games and hypocritical behavior, on his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. He accomplishes his goal after he throws himself down the cellar stairs in his home. Then he becomes obsessed with a tiny tin drum and discovers that his screams can shatter glass.
Oskar's home town is Danzig, a place where Germans and Poles can't stand each other. The atmosphere in the city is so incredibly tense that everyone realizes that it is only a matter of time before something terrible happens.
There is plenty of tension in Oskar's family as well. Oscar's mother Agnes (Angela Winkler, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum) is in love with two men - the German Alfred Matzerath (Mario Adorf, Caliber 9) and the Pole Jan Bronski (Daniel Olbrychski, The Unbearable Lightness of Being). She is married to the former, but the latter is Oscar's biological father. Oskar meets the two men all the time but does not care much about them because he has seen enough to realize that they are like the rest of the adults - liars and hypocrites.
Soon after Oskar discovers that his screams can shatter glass he starts patrolling the streets of Danzig. When he sees something he does not like, he makes sure that everyone is aware. He also learns to manipulate the adults, as most of them incorrectly assume that he is too young to understand the way they think.
Oskar also befriends Bebra (Fritz Hakl), a dwarf in a traveling circus, who warns him about the great evil that is about to be unleashed. At first Bebra's warning confuses Oskar, but when the Nazis enter Danzig he begins to understand what his friend was trying to tell him.
After the Nazis turn Danzig upside down, the Soviets arrive to liberate it. Then, while liberating it a few of them rape Oskar's grandmother in the basement of their home.
Based on the acclaimed novel by Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum reminds about Federico Fellini's best films – it is provocative, unapologetic, sad, funny, and grotesque. It is also filled with plenty of symbolism, similar to that other period war films have favored (see Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds).
In America, The Tin Drum received plenty of mixed reviews. This wasn't surprising, because the people who wrote them could not possibly understand its message. The film isn't about Oskar's rejection of the world he is forced to endure or the horrors of war, it is about an entire nation slowly losing its identity and its people becoming puppets. (The Tin Drum was completed in 1979, at a time when the citizens of GDR and FDR were still very much treated like puppets).
Because the transformation is not sudden, the adults are not alarmed by it. Only Oskar, who has isolated himself, senses the dangerous transformation. But he also does not fully understand what is happening - his 'normal' mother is constantly in bed with different men, the 'normal' girl he has fallen in love with now has an older lover, his 'normal' friend Bebra who warned him about the Nazis turns up in a Nazi uniform. Confused and filled with anger, Oskar bangs his tin drum and screams – and then slowly, like everyone else around him, also begins to change.
Note: In 1979, The Tin Drum won the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. A year later, the film won Oscar Award for Best Foreign Language Film (West Germany).
The Tin Drum Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.64:1m encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Volker Schlondorff's The Tin Drum arrive son Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Films.
The Blu-ray disc contains new high-definition transfers for the Theatrical Version and newly reconstructed Director's Cut of The Tin Drum approved by Volker Schlondorff. The former runs at approximately 144 minutes, while the latter runs at approximately 164 minutes. My comments below will be for the Director's Cut of the film.
Detail and clarity are very pleasing. Contrast levels have also been largely stabilized. There are dramatic improvements in the area of color reproduction as well - the reds, greens, blues, browns, and blacks look substantially richer and better saturated than they are on the Criterion R1 DVD release of the film. Furthermore, there are no traces of overzealous sharpening and problematic denoising corrections. Unsurprisingly, a healthy dose of light grain is present at all times. This being said, compression could have been better as small artifacts occasionally pop up here and there. Extremely light noise and some background flicker have a tendency to creep in as well. During a few selected sequences sharpness levels also tend to spike up. Overall, however, the restoration efforts have produced solid results and the strong high-definition transfer makes it easy to appreciate them. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Tin Drum Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with portions of Polish). For the record, Arrow Films have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is strong. The dialog is crisp, clear, well balanced, and free of problematic hiss. Maurice Jarre's music score has also benefited from the loseless treatment - depth and especially fluidity are greatly improved. However, anyone expecting a wide variety of nuanced dynamics will likely be disappointed as the film's sound design is relatively modest. For the record, there are no sync issues or audio dropouts to report in this review.
The Tin Drum Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Tin Drum Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Forest Gump must have felt a lot like little Oskar while trying to understand the people around him and make sense of the world he lives in. In The Tin Drum the process is reversed – Oskar, the only sane person, slowly begins to change while the Nazis and then the Soviets destroy his country. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of British distributors Arrow Films, contains the Theatrical Version and a newly reconstructed Director's Cut of the film. Both look very good. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Tin Drum Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Tin Drum Blu-ray - September 27, 2011
Arrow Films will release on Blu-ray Volker Schlöndorff's Tin Drum (1979), starring David Bennent, Mario Adorf, and Angela Winkler. In 1979, the film won the Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The preliminary street date revealed by the distributors is ...
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