The Sons of Great Bear
Of course, DEFA had no intention of aping Hollywood’s approach to that genre, and would ultimately put their own, distinctive spin on it. Going a long way toward achieving that was their decision to tell their film’s story from the point of view of its Native American characters, with whites settlers serving as the villains, a conceit that would also provide a convenient platform for critiques of American imperialism and greed.
Original Title: Apachen
East Germany, 1973, 94 min., color
Director: Gottfried Kolditz
Based on original documents from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), this film tells the story of a young warrior Ulzana who is out to avenge the extermination of his tribe, which was led by American geologist Johnson. Apaches is one of the classic Indianerfilme produced by DEFA between 1966 and 1985.
Chingachgook, the Great Snake
Original Title: Chingachgook, die grosse Schlange
East Germany, 1967, 86 min., color
Director: Richard Groschopp
An adaptation of The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. French colonists and Hurons are fighting against English troops and their allies, the Delaware. Only Chingachgook, a young Delaware, and his fair-skinned friend Deerslayer realize that the colonizers intend to exterminate the Native Americans altogether.
Sons of Great Bear, The
Original Title: Die Soehne der grossen Baerin
East Germany, 1966, 93 min., color
Director: Josef Mach
Gojko Mitic stars in this, his very first Indianerfilm, as the fearless chief Tokei-ihto, whose Dakota tribe is being driven from the land of their ancestors. Based on the carefully researched Western fiction of Liselotte Welskopt-Henrich, East Germany's answer to Karl May.