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Baffling, Plot-laden curiosity..............
on August 22, 2013
Well, even highly cultivated cinema lovers can be baffled by a product like this........
The film is filled with so much plot that you almost stop caring, because so much of it seems (seems) inconsequential. But I have the feeling that there is more to this work of "art" than meets the eye (well, MY EYE!)......
There is perhaps something allegorical, metaphorical to the film, but-----to sober me up, it must have gone over my head.
Adapted from the novel by Gunter Grass, a name that conjures up the finest of literature (although I have not had the pleasure to read his work yet)is the first thing that tells you "ART" in very bold letters. Then the reputation of the movie is one of a rather quite unquestioned "masterpiece"......but we are aware of AAAAALLLL the "masterpieces" that critics have fallen for, many times little more than rubbish, so you suspend judgment until you see and analize the work.
It is filmed beautifully, with enchanting cinematography. Acting is superb all around. The principal role, although rather limited in expresiveness is still a very impressive achievement for so young a child.
And that brings me to one of the "caveats" on being dissapointed and distressed by the film. I don't like children very much. And this child is extraordinarily ANNOYING. Having discovered he can break glass by screaming out loud, he becomes more and more petulant and demanding and simply sickeningly, well, CHILDISH. I would have given him a good thrashing----and in fact he gets it, by more than a few adults.
After the third time he uses this useless power, you start to pray that we don't see it again.
A million things happen. You would have to jot down item by item in order to give some shape to the plot in your mind. In some ways, the complexity of the plot is what ultimately exhausts you. But at 2 hours and 20 minutes there's a lot to explain.
It is the dawn of the Third Reich. Soon enough the liberation is here, and in the period between the age of 3, when he decides he will not grow, to around 20, when by then we see that (apparently) his sexuality is blooming (a very awkward task to accomplish since no woman believes he is a-----well, "pseudo-midget") his mother dies (after, among many things our boy sees her being unfaithful), he joins a circus as a "midget/dwarf" freak show, and he has a child with......it escapes me!
The double-disc includes a documentary that presents the details of a ban that took place in Oklahoma (where else? Ha!), the arrest, the fight between the state against Civil Liberties and public libraries joining together to decide on charges of Child Pornography that it accuses it of. And it does make you ponder on how much may the actor (perhaps no more than 10) may have been "abused" for this role-------particularly one scene where he is in a cabin with a woman and when he sees her vulva he goes berserk and runs and holds tightly to the area of the organ----- seemingly performing oral sex for a few moments.
There is something almost surreal about the movie. There is also a certain beauty in a number of scenes of family life as they deal with the incoming annexation of their land (in Poland) by the Nazis. Many, if not most, embrace it--------a good moment to realize that a lot of that "embracing" at the time could have been done by you or me.
Is that enough? I would ask you to give it a try, but I certainly will not spend 2 and a half hours on this complication again.