Winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 2005, Gunter Grass is one of the literary giants of modern times. He is probably best known around the world as the author of The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) of which a film adaptation directed by Volker Schlondorff won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The filmmakers take the simple but highly effective approach of accompanying Gunter Grass in the run-up to the publication of his controversial novel "Peeling The Onion", and in the process they build up an intimate highly insightful portrait of the man, his life and work. For instance a round table meeting with his translators from many countries seems routine, but the task at hand of creating new improved translations of The Tin Drum becomes a fascinating insight. The first translations were regarded as timid and conventional efforts that diminished the power of the German original. It's a genuinely thought provoking insight into his literary style and uniquely expressive use of the German language, and the challenges faced in adapting into other languages. During this time, he travels to readings, awards ceremonies and meetings, pays a visit to his birthplace in Gdansk (then Danzig) and together with his daughter Helene Grass he gives a stage performance in Paris - while the whole time working on his novel. The filmmakers are present during the revelations that he was in the Waffen SS as a young conscript as the war was nearing its end. The documentary also includes interviews with colleagues and friends such as Amos Oz, Salman Rushdie and as a lifelong Social Democratic Party supporter, with the German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.
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