»creennPercussive Expressionism, L/7^/e Women Updaten& the Triumph of IdiocynThe Tin Drum; Written by VolkernSchlondorff, Jean-Claude Carrierenand Franz Seitz; Directed by VolkernSchlondorff; from the novel bynGiinter Grass; a Nev^^ World Picturesnrelease.nFoxes; Written by Gerald Ayres; Directednby Adrian Lyne; UnitednArtists.nBeing There; Based on the novel bynJerry Kosinski; A Hal Ashby Film;nUnited Artists.nCoal Miner’s Daughter; Based on thenautobiography by Loretta Lynn; Directednby Michael Apted; A UniversalnPicture.nAgee; A documentary by RossnSpears; James Agee Film Project.nGet Out Your Handkerchiefs; Directednby Bertrand Blier; New LinenCinema.nby Eric ShapearonIs this a major movie, as most reviewersnclaim, bestowing upon it superlativesnand awards.’ Or is it just thengnawing hunger for art movies, evidentnin a more demanding part of the Americannaudience, which makes every picturenthat deviates from the currentnsleazy Hollywood cinematic formulanlook like an art movie.’nAt issue, in the form of literary/cinematicnmeditation, is a well-known Europeannproblem, endemic to the bulk ofnthe European continent, where historynhas shuffled empires, nation-states andnpolitical entities within a relatively smallngeographic expanse. Struggles of a culturalnnature, involving religions andnethnic allegiances, perennially havenchanged politically homogeneous king­n46inChronicles of Culturendoms and realms into heterogeneousnamalgams, and, in the process, havenoften bred ferocious clashes which—nfor nearly two millennia—have fosterednirreconcilable conflicts between racesnand traditions. The end result was, andnstill is, a multitude of ethnic and nationalngroups with badly split personalities.nSince the time of Charlemagne,nthe Alsatians have never really knownnwhere they belong—France or Germany;nthe Tyroleans have never beennable to decide whether they are Tyrolese;nthe Walloons, the Flemings, thenCatalonians all suffer from an analogousnaffliction. And then there are the Kashubians—antiny segment of northwesternnPoles who inhabit the Pomeranianncoast of the Baltic Sea, and who formnthe peasantry surrounding the old citynof Gdansk (Danzig). The Kashubiansnare Catholic and Slavic, with strong tiesnto Polish history and custom, but theynhave been dominated politically by thenGermans since the Middle Ages. Thensystem of ethnic and cultural loyaltiesnis thus an inevitable mess. Giinter Grassnis the son of a Kashubian mother; heneven considers himself to be a Kashubian,nhence Der Blechtrommel (The TinnDrum), his most celebrated work, is anconsummate exercise in ethnoculturalnschizophrenia. Indeed, the novel elevatesnnational confusion to the statusnof an all-encompassing symbol. Humannsufferings, the probe into the humanncondition in general, into the most intimatensensitivities and impulses, saturatenGrass’s narration, which, althoughnboring, ponderous and heavy-handed,nmakes a cogent philosophical and historicalnpoint. Grass is a critic’s writer:nthe more abstruse he appears, the morenthe critics declare him to be a genius,nbut no one could deny that his prose hadna certain significance in the post-WorldnWar II reglement des comptes.nBut the movie falls flat. Everythingnnnthat, in the book, had local perspectivenand multidimensionality, in the filmnturns into a story of Germans and Polesninterrelated by geography; the Kashubianndilemma somehow has been evisceratednfrom the general picture. Thentorment of contorted fidelities—the gistnof the problem—is gone. The nazis arenjust murderous clowns; their knavishnand fanatical simplemindedness, thensource of their heinous crimes, passesnunregistered. Gdansk (Danzig), an old,nHanseatic, northern European city withna haunting gothic and baroque beauty,ngets neither fair nor imaginative treatment:nit just makes a meager pointnamong the visual components of thenmovie.nThe motif of philosophic fantasy atnthe core of The Tin Drum is that Oscar,nits kid hero, is so appalled by the primitivenhypocrisy and stupidity of the adultnworld that he refuses to grow; he maturesnmentally practically as soon as henleaves his mother’s womb, but he arrestsnhis physical growth by consciousnchoice. He later joins a group of midgets,nlilliputians and dwarfs who representnall possible civility, comity andnsophistication; their ideological premisenis that people who grow cannot bentrusted. Therefore, they oppose and deridennazism and war; they profess a sortnof spiritual independence from mankind’snsins and blunders. In the novel,nthis metaphor is handled with caution.nIn the movie, it comes across in a somehownvapid fashion. When, at the end,nOscar—a victim of history and relatednhuman griefs—announces that he willngrow malgre tout, and thus, finally, connectsnwith humanity at large, his wordsnsound like the denouement of a T’Vnmedical series.nMr. Grass has a peculiar obsessionnwith abomination, which he apparentlynconsiders the best means to intimaten