The Tin Drum: A Critical Ode in Picaresque (Part 2)

The Beat of My Own Drum

The Roman picaresque was a subgenre I did not know by name before embarking on this blogathon. So, having learned something, and wanting to chronicle a personal journey with a film, it was already a total success. Much like Mark Twain’s prelude/warning at the start of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “those looking for a plot will be shot” while watching The Tin Drum but that’s not to say there isn’t a point being made and a story being told anyway, the method is just unconventional.

I cannot remember how I first came to view this film exactly. It may have been a rental. I do know that the original DVD release from Kino is one of the first DVDs I ever had. It’s a film that inspired me in a lot of ways from the audacity of its making to the outrageousness of its protagonist. So much so that it’s one of a few films that inspired an online persona. Once upon a time I used AOL Instant Messenger screen names like TheDustFactory, named after a film, and the incorrectly spelled OskarDeTrommler. I was drawn to, and understood, the charms of this character lost amidst historical events, and it’s a wonderful symbol and creation of cinema even if the desire to be drumming, and the fascist leader that should be followed, are read by Schlöndorff; I agree with one can’t even deign to have that kind grandeur of self-regard without some motivation.

As a rebel, and defender of free speech, and an artist; I bristled at the notion of the Oklahoma ruling that it was child pornography. Schlöndorff having faced censorship troubles with the film in quite a few markets understood the trouble he was just baffled by it occurring ten years after the fact.


The cinematic realism with outrageous occurrences and types; the impartial point-of-view that visually transcribes a world; “Germany confronting its past through Hollywood images,” as film scholar Timothy Corrigan stated it; the fact that it’s really a contrarian bildungsroman starring an Anti-Peter Pan (he ages but his body does not – a version of Oskar that only exists in the cinema); are just some of the things that drew me to it. It’s a film that goes beyond overly-simplistic representations, like a Christ figure, and it goes where the camera usually does not, which I am always a fan of.

Through these myriad sections you’ll specific illustrations in image and text as to how all the layers of this film work ever-so-beautifully.

The Tin Drum: A Critical Ode in Picaresque (Part 1)

Statement of Intent

If one is not already rolling their eyes at the title of this piece, it is actually one that fits. So, what does the title mean? Mainly that The Tin Drum is a film I owe an homage, an ode, on this blog. It’s not a poetical one but a critical one, and much in the fashion of this film, it is one in a picaresque tradition.

When trying to ponder this blogathon entry, and how I would go about tackling something like The Tin Drum, I had a few different ideas. Prior to even joining the Grace Kelly blogathon, I thought of reading the play. Similarly, I considered reading Günter Grass’ novel theprior to writing this. I did not read The Swan by Ferenc Monár and I barely got into The Tin Drum.

I also planned on watching the definitive cut before this blogathon started as well as the supplements. With many recent blogathons I was ready well ahead of time. Not this time.


So, I will have to do what I did for Léolo, except I will start this as a series on the last day of the blogathon and will continue daily until I am finished. I am dealing with a leviathan much more unruly than what I allowed myself with Léolo.

I will use this post as an index linking to each individual post as they go live.

Thank you all for reading and bearing with me. I hope you come back, and as a teaser as of this writing I am planning on 12 parts and have so far written at least 3,688 words.

Unlike in the film, Santa Claus will come, not the gasman.

Children in Films Blogathon: A Revisionist Look at the Juvenile Award

When I learned of the Child Actor Blogathon at Comet Over Hollywood, I had two ideas for it almost right away: the Jackie Searl spotlight and this one. Not too long ago I argued for why the Juvenile Award should be re-instated. In this post I will follow up on that notion to augment my case. It’s one thing to quickly cite who won while it was around and state it never should have left, it’s quite another to show you who would have had they never gotten rid of it. Now I have decided to illustrate that in three ways, including some omissions found when it was instated (it’ll make more sense when we get there, trust me). First, I will list the young actors who since the end of the award (after 1961) were nominated for an Academy Award.

These actors obviously, had there still been a Juvenile Award, would have won that. While on occasion they were awarded the prize, more often than not they didn’t have a realistic chance. Regardless, their nomination was deemed prize enough it would seem, but I disagree and as you will see there have been plenty of instances where the Juvenile award could have been handed out either in addition to or in place of the nomination.

Based on Academy Award nominations from 1961-Present:

Little Miss Sunshine (2006, Fox Searchlight)

2012 Quvenzhané Wallis Beasts of the Southern Wild
2010 Hailee Steinfeld True Grit
2007 Saoirse Ronan Atonement
2006 Abigail Breslin Little Miss Sunshine
2002 Keisha Castle-Hughes Whale Rider
1999 Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense
1993 Anna Paquin The Piano
1979 Justin Henry Kramer vs. Kramer
1977 Quinn Cummings The Goodbye Girl
1976 Jodie Foster Taxi Driver
1973 Tatum O’ Neal Paper Moon
1968 Jack Wild Oliver!
1962 Patty Duke The Miracle Worker
Mary Badham To Kill a Mockingbird

Personal Selections

Super 8 (2011, Paramount)

In 1996, when I was 15 and the young actors of the day where my contemporaries, I started making my own award lists. Being young myself at the time I wanted to recognize young actors where most awards excluded them more often than not. These selections reflect those that were my among my BAM award selections that were eligible and the Academy bypassed. Prior to 1996, I thought of significant performances that were worthy of noting and would’ve had a strong case for the Juvenile Award had it been around.

2012 Rick Lens Kauwboy

This one is highly unlikely as Kauwboy wasn’t shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film prize. However, the fact that it was the official selection for The Netherlands did make it eligible.

My young actress choice last year, Sophie Nélisse, was a year off from the Oscar calendar but also a strong possibility for Monsieur Lazhar.

2011 Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Ryan Lee, Riley Giffiths Zach Mills, Gabe Basso Super 8

It figures that both the best young ensemble, and perhaps individual performance, of the past 25 years got overlooked. So they are all honored here.

2009 Bill Milner Is Anybody There?

2008 Bill Milner and Will Poulter Son of Rambow

A slight wrinkle here from my original selection. Since the Academy set precedent of awarding tandems, why not do so here as well?

2005 Dakota Fanning War of the Worlds

2004 Freddie Highmore Finding Neverland

My 2004 winner was one where I was awarding a film from 2003, due to my stand on release dates, which is different than the Academy’s. Having said that I then had to factor in both my nominees and who the Academy would be more likely to pick and decided if they chose anyone it would have been Highmore.

2003 Jeremy Sumpter Peter Pan

2001 Haley Joel Osment Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

2000 Haley Joel Osment Pay It Forward

1998 Vinicius de Oliveira Central Station

1997 Joseph Ashton The Education of Little Tree

Here’s another interesting case: my winner was in a TV film which the Academy would never honor. Then two more nominees were either shifted due to my interpretation of release date rules and one erroneously in my revisionist phase. That leaves two eligible: Dominic Zamprogna in The Boy’s Club and Joseph Ashton in The Education of Little Tree. Some people besides me actually saw the latter so I’d put that one up as a winner.

1996 Michelle Trachtenberg Harriet the Spy
Lucas Black Sling Blade

Michelle was my actual winner in 1996. Sling Blade in my awards was shifted to 1997 due to its release date. It being an Oscar nominated film make it a more likely retrospective candidate.

My Girl (1991, Columbia Pictures)

This section marks personal selections prior to my picking extemporaneous year-end awards.

1994 Elijah Wood The War

I recall watching E! and hearing there was some buzz being stirred by the cast/studio for Elijah. I knew it would never happen, but it was deserved buzz.

1992 Maxime Collin Leolo

I have since expunged them but for a time I did backtrack BAM Award to back before they started. Some of these picks reflect those findings.

1991 Anna Chlumsky My Girl

1990 Macaulay Culkin Home Alone

Say what you will, but you know if the award was around that this would have happened.

1988 Pelle Hvengaard Pelle the Conqueror

1987 Christian Bale Empire of the Sun

1986 River Phoenix Stand by Me

1983 Bertil Guve Fanny and Alexander

1982 Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1979 Ricky Schroeder The Champ
David Bennent The Tin Drum

1972 Nell Potts The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Who Should Have Gotten One But Didn’t

No Greater Glory (1934, Columbia Pictures)

I honestly almost scrapped this section. However, looking back through young nominees I noticed the discrepancy that some young nominees did not get a Juvenile Award while there was one. So I figured while I was at it I’d list a few notable performances that didn’t get recognized. Those that “didn’t need one” since they were nominated as in their respective categories against adult competition have denoted those with an asterisk.

1956 Patty McCormack The Bad Seed*
1953 Brandon deWilde Shane*
1952 Georges Poujouly Forbidden Games
1941 Roddy McDowall How Green Was My Valley
1936 Freddie Bartholomew Little Lord Fauntleroy
1934 George Breakston No Greater Glory
1931 Jackie Cooper Skippy*