Sumptuously shot and designed, Schlöndorff's respectful film of Günter Grass's epic novel is nevertheless inevitably inferior to the original. The problem perhaps is that it is all too literal an adaptation of the book, which looked at the realities of German history from the fantastic, subjective viewpoint of a child who, by sheer will-power, refuses ever to grow up; the result is that, as the kid witnesses the rise of the Nazis, what we see is rarely convincing in itself, while the complexities of Grass's book are largely sacrificed for eye-catching scenes of the grotesque and the bizarre. Still, the performances are strong and the film just about works as middlebrow entertainment for those put off by the length of the novel.
Cast and crew
Jean-Claude Carrière, Franz Seitz, Volker Schlöndorff
David Bennent Mario Adorf Angela Winkler Daniel Olbrychski Charles Aznavour Heinz Bennent Andrea Ferréol