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Film / DEFA Westerns

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Following on the success of Der Schatz im Silbersee and other West German Western movies (most of the based on stories by Karl May), the East German DEFA studios produced ten Westerns for the domestic, Eastern bloc and international market. These portrayed the struggle of the American Indians against the advancing United States as inspirational, but tragic examples of anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggle. In keeping with this, the films were not called Westerns, but Indianerfilme ("Indians movies").

The films were shot at various locations in Eastern Europe, with, for instance, the Caucasus doubling for the Black Hills of Dakota. A few of the films were based on literary works, but most were taken directly from history. And Serbian actor (and later director) Gojko Mitić played the lead in all of them.


The DEFA Westerns:

  • Die Söhne der großen Bärin (The Sons of the Great She-Bear, 1965): Based on the novel by Lieselotte Welskopf-Henrich.
  • Chingachgook, die große Schlange (Chingachgook, the Great Snake, 1966): Based on The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper.
  • Brennende Zelte in den Schwarzen Bergen a.k.a. Spur des Falken (Burning Tents in the Black Hills or Tracks of the Falcon, 1968)
  • Weiße Wölfe (White Wolves, 1969): Sequel to the preceding.
  • Tödlicher Irrtum (Deadly Mistake, 1969)
  • Tecumseh (1972)
  • Apachen (1973)
  • Osceola (1973)
  • Ulzana (1974): Sequel to Apachen.
  • Blutsbrüder (Blood Brothers, 1975): Written by and starring singer/actor Dean Reed, who had defected from the US.


These films contain examples of:

  • Brownface: All over the place for the American Natives, who were all portrayed by Europeans.
  • Dawn of the Wild West: Chingachgook, die große Schlange (1740-1745), Tecumseh (War of 1812), and Osceola (Seminole Wars of the early 19th century in Florida).
  • Historical Domain Character: Four of the Indianerfilme were directly based on historic events, so many of them appear. Just taking the relevant starring roles by Gojko Mitic: Tecumseh, Ulzana (also in Apachen), and Osceola.
  • The Western: Or rather, The Moral Substitute from a Communist perspective.


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