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Blu-ray Review: Volker Schlondorff’s ‘The Tin Drum’ Continues to Challenge

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CHICAGO – Volker Schlondorff’s “The Tin Drum” was a sensation when it was released in 1979, even tying Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” for the Palme D’Or at Cannes that year and winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. History hasn’t been quite as kind to “Tin Drum” as some of its late-’70s contemporaries and it is a bit surprising that it was as much of a phenomenon as it was on the arthouse scene now that one can watch it over three decades later and see the film’s notable flaws but Criterion has put together another stellar edition, highlighted by notable bonus material with the film’s director.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

Some Criterion releases, often by virtue of the film’s age and lack of surviving creators, are notably bereft of special features that actually include the people who made the film. Such is not the case with “The Tin Drum,” which features a new transfer approved by the director, new track that met with his stamp as well, and a lengthy interview with the director. Schlondorff speaks openly and candidly about the film and the controversy that followed it. The other special features are interesting and engaging but the Blu-ray release and the new DVD release does not include a formerly available documentary about the controversy that greeted the film decades after its release when it was deemed pornographic (called “Banned in Oklahoma”). It’s too bad that those who have the original Criterion release will have to hold on to it and not be able to fully upgrade although the HD transfer here is stellar enough that true fans of the film will not regret having both standard and BD versions.

The Tin Drum
The Tin Drum
Photo credit: The Criterion Collection

Synopsis:
Oskar is born in Germany in 1924 with an advanced intellect. Repulsed by the hypocrisy of adults and the irresponsibility of society, he refuses to grow older after his third birthday. While the chaotic world around him careers toward the madness and folly of World War II, Oskar pounds incessantly on his beloved tin drum and perfects his uncannily piercings shrieks. The Tin Drum, which earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Academy Award for best foreign-language film, is Volker Schlondorff’s visionary adaptation of Nobel laureate Gunter Grass’s acclaimed novel, characterized by surreal imagery, arresting eroticism, and clear-eyed satire.

Special Features:
o Interview With Schlondorff About The Making Of The Film And The Creation Of The Complete Version
o Interview With Film Scholar Timothy Corrigan
o German Audio Recording Of Gunter Grass Reading An Excerpt From His Novel The Tin Drum, Illustrated With The Corresponding Scene From The Film
o Television Interview Excerpts Featuring Schlondorff, Grass, Actors David Bennent and Mario Adorf, And Co Writer Jean-Claude Carriere
o Trailer
o Booklet Featuring An Essay By Critic Geoffrey Macnab and 1978 Statements By Grass About The Adaptation Of His Novel

“The Tin Drum” was released on Criterion Blu-ray and re-released on Criterion DVD on January 15, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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