The Tin Drum Diaries, Part 9
Folks, I put The Tin Drum on and fully intended to watch it. It was going to be almost three hours long. I started a commentary track ( “Oh LORD. Two hours and forty-three minutes?? That is… wow. I guess I don’t know what else I was expecting. That sounds about right.” [Enormous sigh]); I started to take notes. I pressed play on HBOMax, where little Oskar’s story is currently streaming.
The sound was all fucked up. The subtitles, the action on screen, and the audio had little to no relationship to one another. It was a disorienting audiovisual hellscape that made no sense. I stopped watching after like three minutes.
Yes, I tried the things: I jumped to another part in the movie, I restarted HBOMax, I tested out another movie with subtitles (City of God; that was rough because I was like oh man, City of God is so good, why isn’t it based on a book and why isn’t that book my mother’s favorite? But I digress, the point is that one was synced properly).
And I also considered: is the brain-splitting cacophonous tone poem of unsynced sound intentional? More kooky antics from Gunter Grass?
No. It simply cannot be that. The movie started with a screen announcing that it won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars in 1979, among other prestigious awards. There is absolutely no way anyone could watch what I watched for three minutes, for two hours and forty-three minutes, and…. survive?? Much less decide that this was Best Picture material.
HBOMax: You fucked up. (And just real real quick while we’re at it? No Sex and the City movies on HBOMax? [Yeah, everyone, I know they’re terrible, but I’m a completionist, and besides, how can you not have an insatiable craving to watch more after they leave you with that super juicy tidbit that Big’s real name is John?!??!] Can you do that, just make something terrible and then absolve yourself of any responsibility for it by not even offering it on your streaming platform? That is against nature. It’s chaos. Truly, what is happening here in 2021?)
So! I have signed up for a free two weeks of the Criterion Channel, and you know what? I might even pay to get it for a month. Sure. I’ll watch The Spirit of the Beehive, too. I’ll do it!
Spirit of the Beehive is a go-to for me vis-à-vis serious foreign art films that only serious film people have seen. Off the top of my head, other examples are Picnic at Hanging Rock, which whenever I see a still or a clip of sort of wispy pretty countryside ladies in white I assume it’s from Picnic at Hanging Rock; pretty much any Ingmar Bergman, although you gotta go with The Seventh Seal for the purest uncut European film experience, i.e. Death playing chess on the beach; Children of Paradise because it’s over three hours long, involves a mime, and fun fact, my college professor did the Criterion commentary track (and then assigned us the movie and didn’t mention he did the commentary track for it); and Black Orpheus , which I watched in that same class, then watched with my best friend and my mother and my mom was all excited for it because she saw it in the theaters when it came out and then they both very quickly fell asleep.
Hooray for the Criterion channel! HBOMax, you’re on notice, get your act together! I’ll talk to you all soon, about the movie The Tin Drum, for real this time, I will watch it, let the record show that I tried to, no one can say that I didn’t. Stay healthy and safe out there.