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Marill, I.H. (1991). The Tin Drum: A Cinematic Portrayal of an Oedipal Tyrant. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:541-553.

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:541-553

The Tin Drum: A Cinematic Portrayal of an Oedipal Tyrant

Irwin H. Marill, M.D.

From a psychoanalytic point of view, The Tin Drum is a story about an 'oedipal tyrant' who presents himself as a parricide. The narrative, in the form of an allegory, tells the story of a child who refuses to grow up in order not to join the world of adult perversity. While this is the ostensible theme, my discussion will highlight the paradox in this film which, at the same time, shows the child to be the exemplar of perverse thinking and behaviour. I believe the author has emphasized this absurdity in order artistically to dramatize the truth of childhood polymorphous perversity, as the prologue to adult depravity, when development and circumstances go awry. In this story, the child is simultaneously the grand protester and the mirror of the perverse world.

In my view, oedipal issues are emphasized in the screenplay for good reason as the central, organizing pathway for the raging childhood issues of envy, jealousy, rivalry, magical omnipotence, compensatory grandiosity, and ultimately parricide. What better platform for all these human phenomena than the Nazi period! Another paradox I will comment on is the well-known psychoanalytic view that mental parricide is the very stuff from which oedipal resolution and 'growing up' can evolve. Fortunately for the child in this film, the option of growth is presented as an outcome of his turbulent oedipal struggle. Regardless of what interpretive position one takes of this film, the viewer comes away with a feeling that something

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