May 19, 1980 12:00 PM

Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum, about a child who defies the horrors of Nazism by refusing to grow up, has often been praised as Germany’s finest postwar novel. Still, great books often make disappointing movies. It is a pleasure to report that director Volker Schlöndorff, with Grass’ collaboration on the screenplay, has risen to the challenge, creating a magical and stirring film that captures the spirit of the book. The movie’s parable about the dark side of human nature is rendered both more charming and more chilling by the use of a child as the protagonist, Oskar; David Bennent, 13, with his large, sunken eyes and stubborn mouth, is brilliant. The film thoroughly deserved the Oscar it won for best foreign film at this year’s Academy Awards. (In German with English subtitles) (R)

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