The Tin Drum: A Critical Ode in Picaresque (Part Four)


The Irrationality of German History

One of the most telling quotes from the bonus features is that this film sought to deal with the “irrationality of German history” much as the book did. That phrase is aptly stated whereas Germans as a people are known for order and efficiency their history is marred by actions and behaviors that seem to belie that. Thus, the history is irrational and Eddie Izzard’s joke about Hitler being unable to paint trees and deciding to “kill everyone in the world” is dangerously close to the truth.

The Tin Drum is a work of the German New Cinema, a name and approach that was created after a meeting that created the Oberhausen Manifesto.

Something had to be built out of the rubble, as Goebbles destroyed the film industry, and a Golden Age of German cinema in the Weimar Republic, before the war anyway, as cinema or a culture that saw no reason to look to its recent or distant past for influence and co-opted American mores as Wim Wenders put it “WWII created a hole in German culture and we tried to fill it with American culture as soon as possible.” This the influx of American distributors and the Marshall Plan created a love/hate relationship with the Hollywood cinema. And who doesn’t have one anyway?


The cultural colonization came to German after so-called “Rubble Films, melodramas with similar backdrops to Germany Year Zero but little else in common.

A nation now “Excluded from its own history” as Timothy Corrigan puts it seemed to scream, like Oskar seeking the protection of its grandmother’s skirts, and that protection cinematically seemed to come from honestly addressing some ludicrous histories. Yet, some films continued to act as flashpoints. The Tin Drum being one, and Spielberg’s Schindler’s List twenty-four years later was another noticeable one as it dealt directly with the Holocaust.