August 15, 2011

Germans love Westerns

Cowboys and 'Indianerfilms' Ride High With Film Lovers in Germany

By Scott RoxboroughAs Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin and the Coen Brothers ride in Thursday for the Berlin Festival opener True Grit, they will be welcomed by a local audience wild for Westerns.

Germans have a long and enduring love affair with the most American of genres. Wild West tales from High Noon to Once Upon a Time In the West to Dances With Wolves have been huge hits here. There are more than a hundred Wild West clubs across the county where grown men (and a few women) gather to play cowboys and Indians on stage sets of saloons and hitching posts. Iconic Western images of the wide, unbroken horizon, the solitary cowboy on the lonely trail or the sheriff bringing justice to a lawless land are as engraved on the German mind as the characters of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
Why Westerns are popular, at least in East Germany:"When I was a kid in Leipzig, East Germany, playing Indians was an antidote to the Young Pioneer's indoctrination and propagated anti-Americanism," says Peter Bischoff, president of the German association for the study of the Western, a non-profit group which boasts the world's largest collection of Western literature worldwide outside the Library of Congress.

"The imperialist cowboy was substituted by the anti-imperialist Indian who was honored for his brave resistance to Yankee greed and imperialism," says Bischoff. "They were really just agitprop. But popular. Form 1966 through 1975, DEFA studios made one 'Indianerfilm' a year."
Comment:  I guess this could apply to West Germany too. Many Europeans disdain "Yankee greed and imperialism." Rooting for the Indians could be one way of expressing this.

For more on the subject, see Blake to Script Winnetou Movie and Rob Questions Winnetou Movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The really sad thing is, Der Kaiser von Kalifornien, produced in Nazi Germany, is more sympathetic to Indians than the American movies at the time.

That says a lot about Hollywood, that Nazi Germany is less racist.