OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—It was one of those days when nothing went right for Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy, who asked a federal court to rule that The Tin Drum, an Academy Award-winning film, was child pornography.
First, U.S. District Judge Ralph Thompson ruled that, even according to Oklahoma's legal standard, the movie was not child porn. Then the judge said that Macy had to return all of the videos of the film his office had confiscated last year from video stores, homes and a library.
The Tin Drum, made in Germany, won the Academy Award in 1979 for best foreign film. It is the story of Oskar, a boy who refuses to grow physically after the Nazis take power in Germany, and who shows his anger and frustration by banging on his tin drum and screaming with a high-pitched voice. The movie, which starred David Bennent, was an adaptation of the novel by Gunter Grass.
In Oklahoma City, Macy looked at the film and focused on three scenes, one of them showing a minor performing oral sex.
Judge Thompson said Oklahoma law forbids movies that show underage actors either simulating or portraying sexual acts but only if the film appeals to prurient interests. In the case of this critically-acclaimed foreign film, there was no such appeal, the judge said.
The judge's ruling failed to convince Bob Anderson, executive director of Oklahomans for Children and Families. He said he still believes The Tin Drum includes child pornography.
Michael Camfield, development director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said there is still some unfinished business. He said issues remain concerning the way Oklahoma City police went about confiscating copies of the film, including seizing it from his own house. He has filed a lawsuit to challenge that Oklahoma roundup.