When violent conflict breaks out between greedy railroaders and a tribe of Mescalero Apaches, only two men, destined to be blood brothers, can prevent all-out war: chief's son Winnetou and German engineer Old Shatterhand.
The construction of the Great Western Railroad creates heavy conflict between the railway company and neighboring Indian tribes. Worse, criminal gang leader Santer sets his eyes on a gold mine located on holy Indian land and influences the construction supervisor to re-rout the planned railroad straight through Apache land. Old Shatterhand, who works as a measurement technician, discovers the evil plan and searches contact with the Apaches in an effort to avert war. Written by
I first saw this film at the age of 10 in Germany and at that age found it captivating for it's quality of cinematography and sound-track.
The film was one of a series that attempted for the first time to capture the unique and high romantic Western novels of Germany's greatest adventure writer Karl May. Now, more than 30 years later, and with a video copy of the film in my library to look at when in the mood, I find this version of Karl May's novel rather quaint and clumsy in terms of script/screenplay and certainly out of step with the more popularised versions of the Wild West.
However, May's portrayal of late 19th century America was always a mixture of well researched facts mingled with high romantic fantasy adventure in the "Knights of the Round Table" or "Star Wars" vein. In this regard, the film does capture the spirit of Karl May's novels pretty well, if rather geared towards an assumed prior knowledge by the audience of the characters and of May's novels. From today's sophisticated movie audience's perspective this film version of "Winnetou I" is still noteworthy for its magnificent soundtrack rivaling any John Williams score, and for the noble portrayal of the hero by French actor Pierre Brice, who made this role his own in numerous sequels and stage shows.
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