The Tin Drum

Posted on December 9, 2008
Filed Under cinema, literature | Leave a Comment

Films made from novels have always disappointed the likeithateit team, given that the employment policy here insists on workers being the kind of literate souls who enjoy the nuance that flows from bringing the world of words to life in the mind’s eye. Yet there are exceptions. Many people have pointed out the strange alchemy that seems to transform bad books into great films.  The Godfather being the most obvious example of that. But to make a good book into a good film is fearsomely difficult. The one instance the Likeithateit team agree to having been as satisfied with the film as the book is the monumental, Gunter Grass novel The Tin Drum.

Here’s a description of the novel from wiki

The story follows the life of Oskar Matzerath. Oskar’s memories begin before those of ordinary people when he sees the light of “two sixty-watt bulbs” from his mother’s womb.  Oskar declares himself to be one of those “auditory clairvoyant babies”, whose “spiritual development is complete at birth and only needs to affirm itself”. At age three he receives a tin drum for his birthday which he decides he will retain as his constant companion for the rest of his life.  After a few years observing the obtuseness and duplicity of the adult world, he decides that he shall not grow up and thus retains the stature of a child while living through the beginning of World War II, the Holocaust, several love affairs, and the world of postwar Europe. Through all this the tin drum remains his treasured possession, and he is willing to kill to retain it.

As you can see, its a surreal and intensely personal investigation of the psychology of war. It is difficult to imagine any film capturing this devestatingly dark portrayal of a people gone mad, yet the film The Tin Drum unflinchingly delivers both the lunacy of war and the logical absurdity of Oskar’s reaction to this world, bringing a whimsical beauty and humour into the centre of tragedy.

Here’s the scene from the film in which Oskar discovers his special gift

The Tin Drum is a very special Likeithateit double whammy recommendation!  Read the book, watch the film, preferably in that order and become more like us….

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