1997 July 5

“The Tin Drum” Film Seized as “Obscene” in Oklahoma City


The Oklahoma ACLU went to court on this day to argue that police had illegally seized the film, The Tin Drum, from its staff member Michael Camfield at his home — and also from six Blockbuster video rental outlets. A federal District Court judge found the film obscene because of a scene in which a boy of about 6 or 7 is depicted having oral sex with a girl of 16.

The Tin Drum is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by German author Gunter Grass. Two years after this incident, Grass won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1979.

Controversy arose in 2006 when Grass revealed that during World War II he had been a member of the Nazi Waffen-SS. He died on April 13, 2015.

Watch the banned scene from The Tin Drum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d5aV-cXDi4

Learn more at a timeline on film censorship: https://www.aclu.org/files/multimedia/censorshiptimeline.html

Read the award-winning novel: Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959)

Watch an interview with Gunter Grass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV1HDE5DqM0

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