|Index||4 reviews in total|
Tokei-ihto rides to Fort Smith for negotiations between Indians and
white men, although he does not trust "Red Fox" Clark who introduced
the natives to drinking and gambling. He even killed Tokei-ihto's
father. Tokei-ihto is taken prisoner after he refused to sign a
contract, but he escapes. Finding a peaceful land for themselves is a
long and dangerous mission for Tokei-ihto's tribe. They are crossing
the Missouri river while Tokei-ihto stays behind for a duel against Red
This was the first East German western production starring Gojko Mitic. The Yugoslavian actor had gained experience as a stuntman and played small parts alongside Pierre Brice in 3 West German Karl May films. Other actors only pretend they did all stunts themselves - Mitic really did everything himself, which contributed to his fame. "Die Söhne der großen Bärin" was his first main role in a western and an immediate huge success. Mitic recalled in a TV interview recently that it was watched by 10 million people, more than half of the entire population of the GDR! 40 years later, it seems a bit slow moving, a bit too traditional, whereas later DEFA productions had defined a style of their own more clearly. Still good entertainment if you don't mind men with wigs ;-)
Let's try to write this review in style. I do not argue whether "Sons
of Great Bear" (1966) by DEFA is great Movie or not. It's first in row
from Gojko Mitic's franchise in Indian Films based mostly on writings
by Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich. You can check in Wikipedia who that
woman is. Despite some inconsistencies, she was true German from a
beaten generation after the fall of Third Reich in Germany. I wouldn't
buy talks that she was Communist because such was reality in those Cold
War times. If you don't put your signature under collaborative
statement you wouldn't be allowed to travel abroad. Thus you remain
peasant and ignorant, period. I myself lived through those times and
never was Communist.
Second thing about the Movie. Since I doubt whether Americans or other English speaking people have watched Gojko Mitic's films and I will reiterate again. Very successful spaghetti western with typical German stamina. The hero is Winnetou type undefeatable macho, imaging the noble but dyeing Indian heathen. In the final scene in battle of honor Tokei-Ihto kills his enemy Red Fox (the white, Fred Clark) then liquidates about 20 adversaries with single pistol and escapes. This is typical Karl May scenario and Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich was his staunch student. The chief Tokei-Ihto or "Stone Horn" is imaginary taken from Indian painting by George Catlin. But other Sioux chiefs like Tashunka Witko (Crazy Horse) and Tatanka Yotanka (Sitting Bull) are real personages. They were massacred in Nebraska during Wounded Knee Incident (1890). Sioux tribe was put in Black Hill reservation and a branch D(L)akota lead by Tokei-Ihto fled to Canada (unreliable sources).
Now let's go to the book trilogy by Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich. I wouldn't even imagine say that this was unworthy effort. She studied history and anthropology for 20 years plus before "Die Sohne der Grossen Barin" appeared in 1951. Courtesy to success of the book she wrote two prequels - "Harka, der Sohn des Hauptlings" (1962) and "Top und Harry" (1963) which treat earlier periods of life for Harka / Tokei-Ihto. But "Sons of Great Bear" is finale and could be read alone. In such order they appeared in Bulgarian, a bulk of 1500 pp. and favorite novels for youths. I am not aware whether this great trilogy, rival to Winnetou adventures, is published in English. Probably not, which is a loss.
See, folks, the Indians from Winnetou and Tokei-Ihto series bear German hearts and if you don't understand the undying German spirit you are in great trouble. I talk this to Nationalists all around the world now-a-day. Don't throw Globalization in the garbage bin. Otherwise, you risk standing in position like Jack Nicholson yelling - "You can't handle the truth" - in Few Good Men. See You ...
The western genre had made its way to Europe in the '60s, as seen in
the spaghetti westerns. Lesser known are the westerns that came from
the Soviet bloc, sometimes called easterns (or Ostern). One of the most
famous examples is Josef Mach's East German movie "Die Söhne der großen
Bärin" ("The Sons of Great Bear" in English). We in the United States
are used to seeing everyone in westerns speak English, even in the
Italian westerns. Mach's movie turns the genre on its head, with every
character speaking German, including the Indians. Picture it: American
Indians, living in a village of tepees, all sound more like professors
in a Berlin university.
The movie was no doubt intended as a sort of propaganda piece. The positive depiction of American Indians was in stark contrast to the John Wayne movies, and so the movie was indirectly denouncing the US. Star Gojko Mitić played Indians in a number of other DEFA movies, and became known as the most famous Indian in Eastern Europe, and even received an honorary title from the Ojibwa.
Anyway, it's a pretty impressive movie. A little bit laughable, but pretty fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Die Söhne der großen Bärin" or "The Sons of Great Bear" is an East German / Yugoslavian co-production and the language in here is German of course. This film had its 50th anniversary this year. West Germans loved Karl May and Winnetou back then and East Germans watched these similarly-themed movies starring Gojko Mitic as an Indian tribe chief instead. I am not a fan of the Winnetou films and I must say this one here is sadly not any better. There was hardly any memorable moment in here and I felt that Mitic is a much better actor than what he was allowed to put on display here. The costumes are fine and there are moments when the story isn't bad either, but overall I must say that this film left a lot to be desired. The action and characters were simply not interesting enough for a film that easily runs for over 90 minutes. Maybe it was good that writer Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich (screenplay and novel) never worked on other films again. It was not a failure, but there is not really a reason or aspect good enough either to watch this movie directed by Josef Mach. I give it a thumbs-down.
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|