Page 1 of 3
The Palme d'Or and Oscar-winning 1979 German masterpiece gets the Criterion high-def treatment....
Criterion / 163 Minutes / 1979 / Rated R / Street Date: January 15, 2012
While watching Criterion's superb new Blu-ray edition of The Tin Drum, I kept thinking how great a double feature of it and Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being would be The Tin Drum obviously has the war and Nazism as a far more central throughline to its narrative - Being could be argued as being more of a meditation on art and eros and how war shapes them - but both movies are almost feverishly obsessed with figuring out how to define the horrors of war, of how to comprehend the extensive meanings of atrocity yet still be able to sleep at night.
Yet neither Tin Drum nor Being are particularly dark motion pictures. The Tin Drum, thanks to the screenwriting contributions of frequent late-era Bunuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere (who also co-wrote Being) - is playful and winking almost to a fault, and while the Prague Spring is Being's most central historical event, Kaufman's movie appears to be far more interested in the repercussions of Daniel Day-Lewis' and Lena Olin's bedroom gymnastics than what an uprising like that one meant to the late-60s in Europe.
More to the point, though, The Unbearable Lightness of Being has been out of print as a Criterion DVD title for years now, so my dreams of a long night of esoteric art cinema might be a ways off, but I take at least a little solace from the fact that The Tin Drum has finally received its long-awaited CC high-def debut. Volker Schlondorff's adaptation of Gunter Grass' controversial novel swept major awards when it was originally released - it nabbed both a Palme d'Or and a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar - and this new edition succinctly proves why.
Outlandish, strange, and often beautiful, The Tin Drum is a motion picture that handily inspires ideas and reflections on history, but also isn't afraid to turn these notions on their heads. It's a desperate desire for upheaval and societal change that it shares with The Unbearable Lightness of Being - now let's start a campaign to get that one on Criterion's Blu-ray line....