After receiving a new tin drum on his third birthday, 1920s German toddler Oskar (Bennent) wills himself to stop growing in protest of the repulsively hypocritical behavior he sees in the adult world around him. Years pass, and though Oskar remains physically unchanged, history marches on. All he can do to deflect the horrors of the corrupt new Nazi regime is beat his drum and emit a shrill, glass-pulverizing scream when anyone tries to take away the instrument.
Why we love it
This Oscar-winning adaptation of Gunter Grass's allegorical novel is an absurdist parable in which a willfully stunted man-child becomes the moral conscience of an entire nation. Schlondorff carefully walks the line between fascist critique and the merely freakish, packing his movie with a mesmerizing onslaught of Fellini-esque set pieces. Dark, discomfiting, and sometimes disturbing to watch, "The Tin Drum" is a bitter look at German history and the death of reason, featuring a tragic, haunting performance by bug-eyed, 12-year-old wunderkind Bennent.