The tin drum (film)

The Tin Drum ( Die Blechtrommel ) is a film German coproduced by West Germany and France , directed by Volker Schlöndorff .

It based on the classic novel of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1999 Günter Grass , it is the drama of a boy playing a drum of tin to express disagreement to life during the rise of the Third Reich . Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1979.


The voice of Oskar tells the story since when it is in the womb of its mother. While stewing potatoes, his grandmother Anna Bronski helps an unknown, incendiary fugitive named Joseph Koljaiczek, hiding him under his skirts when he is about to be captured by the police of the German Reich II , and misleading the pursuers, at the same time they have Sex sneaking for the first time. Once the policemen were gone, Ana and Koljaiczek got married and had a daughter, Agnes. After a while, when Ana, Joseph and Agnes were walking along a lake, police identified Koljaiczek, who throws himself into the water, escapes and starts a better life in the United States as an insurance company owner and, At the same time, one of matches. Anna Bronski continued to sell geese and turnips until she reached old age.

In the 1920s, prior to the outbreak of World War II , Agnes and her family lived in the Free City of Danzig . Agnes is an attractive girl who holds a relationship without a future with her cousin of Casanovian origin Jan Bronski, who introduces her best friend and the man who would be her husband, Alfred Matzerath, a burly shopkeeper and cook of German origin. Alfred and Agnes are married, but Agnes follows her romance with Bronski, so when she becomes pregnant, it is uncertain who is the real father of the child, who was born in 1924 and is called Oskar.

At the age of three, Oskar receives as a gift a tin drum from which he would never part. During the birthday celebration, Oskar becomes disillusioned with the world of adults when he discovers his mother’s infidelity with his cousin Jan and decides not to continue growing. To achieve his task, he goes to the cava that his father has accidentally left open and is launched from the top of the stairs, striking his head and stunting his growth process. Something that would mark to Oskar would be the constant fights of his parents from that moment.

During her first class at school, when the teacher tried to remove the drum that annoyedly made it sound every time the woman spoke, Oskar discovers that she can repel anyone who dares to take her drum screaming sharply, as her scream breaks any crystal Or close glass, in this case, the teacher’s glasses. Oskar is taken to the doctor by a desperate Agnes; During the consultation, when the doctor tries to remove the drum to examine it, the child emits his shriek by breaking bottles and crystals, which arouses the admiration of the doctor, who later publishes the case in a scientific magazine.

Later, during a circus show, Oskar reveals a keen interest in the dwarves and their deeds. There he meets Bebra, the old dwarf director of the circus, who shows him what he can do with his voice. Admired, Bebra encourages him to join the circus to show his talent with the drum and his ability to break glass with his voice.

Oskar is also a friend of Jewish trader Sigismund Markus who gives him tinplate drums from his toy store when the one he has is old and damaged. Markus is in love with Agnes, and although he is never reciprocated by her, he helps to go ahead with his romance with Jan Bronski looking after Oskar while the lovers are in a nearby hotel.

One day, while the Matzeraths and Bronski stroll along the beach, Agnes, secretly pregnant with Jan, feels nauseated and vomits when Alfred buys eels taken from the head of an ox at sea. Later, she refuses to try them cooked by Alfred, who chases her to eat them. After Bronski, who had offered to calm her, makes love in Agnes and Alfred’s own bed, scene witnessed by an Oskar hidden in a closet, Agnes eats the eels quietly. In the following days Agnes develops unbridled cravings for raw fish, eats it uncontrollably and dies locked in a bath in the midst of a great disturbance when her mother, Anna Koljaiczek, reveals to all her pregnancy and infidelity.

Markus’s shop is destroyed on the Night of Broken Glass and the Jew commits suicide; His body is discovered by Oskar. The Second World War explodes with the destruction by the Nazis of the Post Office of Danzig, where Bronski works, who is executed by the SS after a short resistance.

Alfred Matzerath is a fervent admirer of Adolf Hitler who assists with his family to the Nazi parades of the SA . During the visit of a high German officer, a hidden Oskar plays his drum at the same time as the Nazi martial band , makes them lose the rhythm to the musicians, who happen to play the waltz Danube blue of Johann Strauss (son) and, in A surreal scene, everyone present ends up dancing fraternally.

Time after the death of Agnes, comes to help in the house Matzerath Maria, a beautiful plain paisana of Oskar, who falls in love with her and gets to have sex with her. Maria at the same time has an affair with Alfred, which is discovered by Oskar when he surprises them making love. Oskar is greatly disappointed and, when Maria becomes pregnant, tries to attack her in the belly with scissors, which Maria can avoid. Alfred marries Maria, who gives birth to a child named after Kurt, likely son of Alfred, although it is also possible that it is from Oskar.

Disappointed, Oskar leaves his home and joins the itinerant circus of Bebra, with which he works amusing German officers. Soon falls in love with an Italian dwarf of the circus called Roswitha, and initiates an ephemeral relation with her until (Roswitha) dies in an American bombing in Paris. Disappointed and pained, Oskar returns to the Matzerath house, where he was considered dead, and begins with Kurt an excellent relationship as his father is believed.

One night, Allied troops who have invaded Germany requisition the Matzerath House seeking Third Reich collaborators . Alfred tries to eliminate any evidence, but Oskar apparently betrays him by returning a button with a swastika, which Alfred tries to swallow desperately; In the midst of the confusion that occurs, Alfred is assassinated by a Soviet soldier.

During the funeral of his father, before the arena was filled, Oskar throws his drum, which is interpreted as his desire to grow back and to become part of the world of adults, which he can not escape. Kurt throws a stone at the head of Oskar causing it to fall on the coffin, the blow leaves him unconscious and when it comes to itself starts to grow again. Finally, Oskar, Maria and Kurt leave in a train with unknown direction, while Anna, the grandmother of Oskar, continues cooking potatoes while attending the departure of his family as an inevitable part of their destiny: the casubos never leave their land and them It’s time to see your loved ones go.


The tin drum was one of the most financially successful German films of the 1970s. In 1979 it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and the Palme d’Or at Cannes , in conjunction with Apocalypse Now . 1

The film shows scenes in which Bennent, then eleven years old, licks an effervescent shed in the navel of the sixteen-year-old girl played by Katharina Thalbach, who was twenty-four at the time. Then Bennent seems to have oral sex and intercourse with her.

In 1980, the film version of The Tin Drum was first clipped and then banned by the Censorship Committee of Ontario, Canada. 2 Similarly, on June 25, 1997, following an injunction by the State District Court Judge Richard Freeman, who was said to have seen only one scene isolated from the film, The Tin Drum was banned in the county of Oklahoma , Oklahoma , taking into account the state’s laws against obscenity for interpreting sexuality in children. All copies were also confiscated in Oklahoma City, and at least one person who rented the film on tape was threatened with prosecution. Michael Camfield, leader of a local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union , filed a lawsuit against the police department on July 4, 1997, arguing that the tape had been illegally confiscated and his rights violated.

This led to a series of high profile audiences on the merits of the film against the controversial scenes and the role of the judge as censor. The film was claimed and most of the copies were returned in a few months. 3 4 By 2001, all cases had been resolved and the film was legally available in Oklahoma County. This incident was covered in the independent film Banned in Oklahoma , included in the DVD version of The Tin Drum released by Criterion Collection in 2004. 5


  • Mario Adorf- Alfred Matzerath.
  • Angela Winkler-Agnes Matzerath.
  • David Bennent -Oskar Matzerath.
  • Katharina Thalbach-Maria Matzerath.
  • Daniel Olbrychski -Jan Bronski.
  • Tina Engel-Anna Koljaiczek (as young).
  • Berta Drews – Anna Koljaiczek (old).
  • Roland Teubner-Joseph Koljaiczek.
  • Charles Aznavour -Sigismund Markus.
  • Tadeusz Kunikowski-Uncle Vinzenz.
  • Andréa Ferréol-Lina Greff.
  • Heinz Bennent-Greff.
  • Ilse Pagé-Gretchen Scheffler.
  • Werner Rehm-Scheffler.
  • Käte Jaenicke-Mama Truczinski.
  • Helmut Brasch-The Old Heilandt.
  • Fritz Hakl-Bebra.
  • Mariella Oliveri-Roswitha.


  1. Back to top↑ Julia Knight, New German Cinema: Images of a Generation, (Wallflower Press, 2004), p. 26
  2. Back to top↑ “The Current: Whole Blow-by-Blow Show” . CBC Radio. April 19, 2004. Archived from the original on August 7, 2004.
  3. Back to top↑ [PUBLIB: 3847] “Tin Drum” seized as obscene in Oklahoma (fwd) ., July 21, 1997.
  4. Back to top↑ A Fiasco in the Making .
  5. Back to top↑ Trivia for Banned in Oklahoma . Internet Movie Database .