Page 6, 30th May 1980

30th May 1980
Page 6
Page 6, 30th May 1980 — A frightening tattoo
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Organisations: American Navy
Locations: Cannes, Danzig, Oxford

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A frightening tattoo

NOT ALL Festival honours are as svell deserved as last year's Cannes asvard for the best film (and this year's Oscar for the best foreign film to Volker Sehlondoffrs German film, The Tin Drum ("X-, Odeon, Haymarket). Nor has anything like the whole of Schlondorff's film output been shown yet in this country. He has worked for Opera, ballet and television as well as making a dozen or so feature films, including the fascinating tribute to the old German comedienne Waleska Gera which was shown at a London Film Festival,

Another Schlondorff film, however, which has been publicly shown here was enough to indicate Schlondorff as the most elegant. the most imaginative and the most European of post-war West German film directors.

This was Coup de Grace, his fascinating view of the post-First World War ehoas in the Baltic states. The Tin Drum is an extraordinary film from a famous German novel I have not read, by Gunter Grasse. There seems an analogy, or perhaps a contrast between this film's approach to problems of our times and that of Apocalypse Now. Whereas Coppola expanded a Joseph Conrad novella and extended the whole scope of the cinema to embrace the traumatic experience of the Vietnam war, Schlondorff turns Grasse's novel into a microscopic view of the equally trumatie Nazi experience through the eyes of a child. Not that they are the eyes of an innocent.

Oskar (David Bennent won his Oscar for this astonishing performance). born in Danzig before the war, is brought up by his mother (Angela Winkler) and her two lovers, one German (Mario Adorl) and one Polish (Daniel Olbrychski) either of whom may be his father.

This schizophrenic parenthood within the national schizophrenia of Nazi Germany drives Oskar to decide to stop growing at the age of three. Thencelonvard he beats his third birthday present drum through to the progressive corruption of Nazi Germany from her invasion of Poland in 1939 to her so-called liberation by Russia and the Allies in 1945.

He observes every crisis, personal or political with his dazzling fixed stare and delivers his secret weapon, a shrill high squeal which shatters glass.

He watches the persecution Of a little Jewish toymaker (Charles Aznavour) and observes hideous horrors from his isolation.

His only relief comes from encounters with a troupe of midget professional entertainers and the flattering companionship of its urbane elder actor. The sense of horror too great to be envisaged except through this extraordinary child's-eye view is a remarkable combined achievement or author Grasse, director Schlondorff and boy actor David Bennent.

The film demands intense con centration and a rather readier understanding of German than I have, but repays the former. Science fiction has accustomed us to face aspects of the horrid future, but The Final Countdown ("A", Leicester Square Theatre) is set on what looks at first the more familiar deck.of the US Nimitz. The giant nuclear'aircraft carrier (topical because it launched the abortive rescue attempt to Iran) is floating somewhere in the Pacific under the command of its Captain (a skeletonic Kirk Douglas) with Martin Sheen as a technical expert.

Among the unlikeliest passengers are a Senator (Charles Durning) and his political assistant (Katherine Ross) whose attractive appearance as the feminine interest only gets in the way of the character's professional and political ambitions.

For the freak storm involves the Nimitz and its crew in a time slip where we are all soon bewildered by echoes from the recent past (Pearl Harbour, 1941) and aspirations to influence the present (topical again with a presidential election) and the nottoo remote future (The senator hopes to succeed President Roosevelt). The time slip "syndrome" is not too plainly clarified, and it is difficult to decide for whom the film is intended: schoolboys on holiday or as publicity for the American Navy, But it is quite an ingenious combination of timefantasy, reminiscent of "Berkeley

Squareor "Outward Bound, ideas with strictly material schoolboy adventure and some enjoyable spectacular helicopter aerobatics.

The relatively new British Boyd Productions have delivered another instalment of the history

of Pop in The Great Rock 'n. Roll Swindle ("X", London Pavilion,

Classic Oxford Street and Chelsea, Screen on the Green). I did not see Quadropheniu, said to be an admirable account of the growth of "The Who", The new film by "Virgin Films" claims to tell the story of the creation of the group called the "Sex Pistols," a legend it would appear built out of nothing to foster the hatreds and corruptions noticeable among today's youth and the commercial profits thereof.

If you can stand the hideous

noises and deliberately disgusting dialogue. you may find the movie

hiresnitio allndrieedmye fascinating. It i an interesting American booklet which lately came my way called anie m ont haetre' s Feaaertnoers't bay Fk e eo, runa Carlo, o!ftrl e, he corrupting influence of sociologist teaching on the American (and other'?) young.

ae r rBruceae actors. mt arsn. e eLoofc oknhe a or ft For collectors I recommend a rare double bill of two of Alec Guinness's best Ealing comedies: Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Man ln The White Suit, both at the Gate, Notting Hill. Such revivals are not mere nostalgic orgies but reminders of what British cinema used to be able to offer us in the way of family laughter and national pride, with our wittyforemost F redperformance ae r rBruceae actors. mt arsn. e eLoofc oknhe a or ft




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