At age three, he falls down a flight of stairs and stops growing. In , World War II breaks out. Bebra : You must join us, you must! Oskar Matzerath : You know, Mr. Bebra : My dear Oskar, trust an experienced colleague. Our kind must never sit in the audience. The others are coming.
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As part of the worldwide distribution deal, United Artists had placed a two-hour-and-fifteen-minute limit on the running time. The Tin Drum was then so well received that nobody thought about revisiting the cut. He claims he asked his producers several times to let him edit in the sequences that he had had to leave out the first time around. And besides, it costs a lot of money and blah blah blah! Years passed. Seitz and Dauman died. And the original materials, which were being kept in a lab in Berlin, were about to be thrown away. The director therefore set to work on the , feet of film negative that had come his way.
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It was mostly shot in West Germany. In , Joseph Kolaizcek, the grandfather of Oskar Matzerath, the main character, is being pursued by the police through rural Kashubia located in modern-day Poland. He hides underneath the skirts of a young woman named Anna Bronski. He has sex with her and she tries to hide her emotions, as the troops pass close by. She later gives birth to their daughter, who is Oskar's mother. Joseph evades the authorities for a year, but when they find him again, he either drowns or escapes to America and becomes a millionaire. The two men are great friends. Agnes gives birth to a son, Oskar. Oskar's parentage is uncertain; Oskar himself believes he is Jan's son.
Allegories have trouble standing for something else if they are too convincing as themselves. That is the difficulty with "The Tin Drum," which is either a an allegory about one person's protest against the inhumanity of the world, or b the story of an obnoxious little boy. The movie invites us to see the world through the eyes of little Oskar, who on his third birthday refuses to do any more growing up because the world is such a cruel place. My problem is that I kept seeing Oskar not as a symbol of courage but as an unsavory brat; the film's foreground obscured its larger meaning. So what does that make me? An anti-intellectual philistine? I hope not. But if it does, that's better than caving in to the tumult of publicity and praise for "The Tin Drum," which has shared the Grand Prix at Cannes with " Apocalypse Now " and won the Academy Award as best foreign film, and is hailed on all fronts for its brave stand against war and nationalism and in favor of the innocence of childhood.