The DEFA Indianerfilm as Artifact of Resistance

By Evan Torner

Scholars often encounter film history as a Wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities that may yield as much bemusement as it does insight. 1 In it resides, for example, the Turkish Star Wars, the bootleg exploitation mixtape, the film secretly shot at Disney World, the silent Russian slapstick sci-fi espionage film, and so forth. 2 Like the proverbial Indian in the cupboard, the DEFA Indianerfilme – popular westerns produced by communist East Germany (GDR) from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s that presume allegiance with Native American resistance against the evil capitalist cowboys – transfix many film historians with their presumed strangeness, given or despite their blockbuster-level box-office returns and millions of long-term Eastern bloc fans. Numerous overview pieces have adequately summarized and processed the genre for a post-communist-era film studies crowd: 3 they conclude that these profitable westerns starring Serbian actor Gojko Mitic were certainly of the revisionist tradition but, in the end, more indicative of (East) German fantasies about themselves and indigenous peoples than about the indigenous experience, and were more about stunts and glamour shots of muscular Eastern European bodies in action than true solidarity with the people portrayed. That much is crystal clear.

What is not clear is what our stakes have become as we continue to write about this body of 14 films. Fredric Jameson, for example, sees the westerns shot in Eastern Europe as a “convulsive attempt to undermine national stereotypes in general, ambiguously reinventing them in the process”. 4 Sebastian Heiduschke meanwhile describes how the popular films have been employed as Internet bait for DEFA fan websites, which crudely compare the films with American and Italo-Westerns while reproducing the narrative that the Indianerfilme were “concerned wtih the life, culture and history of the Native American” (Heiduschke, 2006, 159). Do we study the DEFA Indianerfilme because of their rearticulation of the national through genre tropes? Or do we study them because of their potential to draw eyeballs, thanks to their unique combination of action, kitsch, ethnic drag, and naïve communist ideology? For every legitimate reason to study the films, so it seems, there is an equal and opposite “perverse” reason as well. 5

This article does not so much specifically dissect the East German Indianerfilme in detail as it does address their presence within the cinema of the GDR, and what has been said about these westerns in the public sphere. An overview of the genre is provided, but the primary concern here is a producer/audience discourse analysis that conceives of the Indianerfilme as cultural artifacts that might resist the clichés ascribed to them. I assert that the standard discussion points about these films – i.e., their role as popular entertainment in socialism, their ideological reversal of both the West German and American western, their problematic racial politics, their displays of postcolonial solidarity – have actually changed very little since their conception in the 1960s. The ever-present German enthusiasm for Native American culture, Hartmut Lutz’s (2002) aptly named “Indianthusiasm,” constitutes one such continuity. 6 The uninterrupted popularity and unblemished star-image of their chief protagonist Gojko Mitic is another. Both Mitic’s social location and impeccable physique have lent him credibility that the dominant SED party could never possibly possess, as I discuss elsewhere. 7 But the Indianerfilm’s apparently ineluctable appeal stems not only from Mitic’s star power, rather also from the genre’s unwitting success at creating what Michael Saler might call an “immersive secondary world” of heroic Indian adventures within the post-industrial socialist GDR 8, a fantasy world that successfully captured popular attention and crossed national borders by addressing universal values held by many Eastern Bloc populations. These films appear authentic in their gestures toward transnational and transhistorical solidarity by being 1) openly artificial (overcoming 20th Century socialism’s lack of transparency) and 2) jointly Eastern European as well as German (overcoming national difference). A shift in German cultural studies which privileges pop over high culture and intersectional over ideological analysis has permitted these films to metonymically figure for GDR visual culture in our classrooms, with interesting philosophical consequences for German film history in general. Finally, Dennis Broe argues in his recent article “Have Dialectic, Will Travel” that these films constitute sites of active, working-class counter-hegemonic resistance, be it against oppressive state or neo-liberal market forces, a move comparable to the New German Cinema of the 1960s and 70s 9. These films are certainly artifacts of resistance, in the sense that they have their own hidden lives and agendas, as per the new object-oriented ontology. 10 They are ambiguous, commodified, ever-circulating celluloid fantasies that are screened as both illustrations of a dead country’s media history and as a form of rebellion against some pernicious threat (be it capitalism or Soviet occupation) through the haunting, active bodies and talents of fake indigenous people depicted onscreen. But let me state that a site is somewhere where something takes place, whereas an artifact is something that may have at one time been put to use to produce a certain effect, but which now simply testifies to the conditions that produced it.

Indianerfilme as Processes

The institutions that produced these artifacts intended for them to achieve very specific affective and educational objectives. From the studios’ origins in Soviet-occupied Berlin in 1946 and relocation to Potsdam-Babelsberg in the early 1950s, the DEFA Studios in East Germany had a mission to, as Soviet Colonel Tulpanov stated at their inaugural ceremony, “re-educate the German people–especially the young–to a true understanding of genuine democracy and humanism, and in so doing, to promote a sense of respect for other people and other nations.” 11 For the first two decades of production, moral and socio-political appeals in DEFA films were indeed genuinely prioritized over the logic of short-term economic returns, an institutional inclination which has also influenced generations of film scholars to seek moral, ideological and/or “subversive” messages in DEFA films’ narrative and regimes of representation. Yet the stubborn reality was that DEFA was fundamentally just part of the global film business, and that the word “business” never quite disappeared despite the anti-capitalist, state-subsidized rubric of socialism.

What material conditions governed DEFA genre productions? Full-length DEFA features cost 1 million Ostmarks each and, according to Ralf Schenk, had to present themselves as “easy, unambiguous and comprehensible to everyone” 12. The Indianerfilm fulfilled the latter requirement quite well. Film crew members’ salaries hinged on the success of a film, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree than under capitalism. Yet ideologically safe productions that were proven to have “Devisenrentabilität” – the capability of harvesting badly needed foreign currency – were afforded larger budgets and fewer studio obstacles. Such productions were only in a few genres: Märchenfilme (fairytale films), 70mm adventure films and the Indianerfilme. The average budget of a DEFA Indianerfilm, for example, stood a little under 2.5 Million Ostmarks. As the Ostmark’s purchasing power declined in the 1980s, so too did the genre. Stefan Zahlmann also reminds us that structural factors – material availability, artist cachet, long-term production trends, transnational deals – were absolutely instrumental in decisions to green-light a DEFA production (Zahlmann, 2010, 14). An absolutist perspective with regard to political approval or “subversion” ignores all the ways in which mass media in a modern society do not lend themselves to substantive political control. Put another way: a DEFA film had to be interesting or entertaining enough to attract at least a small audience, but if it proved too attractive – like for example Heiner Carow’s Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula, 1973) – then suspicions of subversive content would necessarily prompt official disapproval.7 Directors and producers wanting to preserve their positions knew how to make films the exact level of “interesting” to guarantee their survival. A film had to be innocuously subsumed under established, self-understood genre categories in order for it to make it past the laborious screenwriting process. Thus Dennis Broe’s argument that the Indianerfilme were somehow “subversive” overestimates the degree to which DEFA filmmakers conceived these films in terms of the “subversive” potential of the material: of alternative political imaginaries or indigenous subjectivities. Blockbusters co-opt the popular for the sake of revenue, even when they occasionally speak to resistance movements. 13 The Indianerfilme were certainly socialist blockbusters intended to reach to audiences beyond the GDR while rekindling the domestic audience’s interest in state-sponsored cinema. As artifacts, they successfully negotiated between a state and its audience, including a general agreement about what oppression and resistance ought to look like and about the outline of an approved socialist playground that could easily intermingle Marxist-Leninist narratives of history with protagonist-driven action fantasy.

In a strange twist of fate, the Indianerfilm became overnight the most commercially successful genre at the disposal of the DEFA Studios. From 1966 to 1985, DEFA produced 14 of these Eastern European-located films, mostly starring Serbian actor/stuntman Gojko Mitic. They depict muscular Native Americans being oppressed by and actively resisting American expansionism. The films intended to project East German solidarity with postcolonial struggles and the so-called Third World (particularly in Vietnam), and were well-received east of the Oder in places like Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. Tim Bergfelder writes that, rather than offer mere spectacle and easy resolutions, the Indianerfilme were “aimed more for ethnographic authenticity and the depiction of social realities” 14. This utterly staged and pre-packaged genre fiction was acclaimed for delivering prosthetic history that, as Gerd Gemünden writes, “[reveals far more] about the political agenda of its makers than about the objects which they pretend to portray” 15.

The genre’s artifacts can be subdivided into six sub-cycles of material, based on their approach to history and fiction. The first sub-cycle, the most popular and profitable of them all, consisted of literary adaptations: Die Söhne der großen Bärin (The Sons of Great Bear, 1966) based on the eponymous novel by Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich and Chingachgook, die große Schlange (Chingachgook, the Great Snake 1967) based on James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer, or The First Warpath (1841). Once these famous novels had been adapted, DEFA began to produce its own in-house fictitious Indian stories, ushering in the second sub-cycle: the so-called “Entwicklungstrilogie” (trilogy of development). These late 1960s films – Spur des Falken (Falcon’s Trail, 1968), Weiße Wölfe (White Wolves, 1969), and Tödlicher Irrtum (Fatal Error, 1969/70) – were built around cinematic set pieces such as train chases and oil slick fights. The sub-cycle cemented the genre as a regular staple at the East German Sommerfilmtage, open-air screenings of family-friendly films. The third sub-cycle consisted of adaptations of real Native American chieftains’ biographies, signaling a return from genre kitsch to historical materialism. Osceola (1971) depicts the Seminole chief who helped free the slaves in Florida, while Tecumseh (1972) looks at the Shawnee chieftain’s betrayal by the French in the war of 1812. By the end of this sub-cycle, it had become clear to the DEFA group Roter Kreis, the production unit responsible for the Indianerfilme, that the guilty pleasures of Eastern European landscapes and stunt sequences that these films offered were unable to seriously address the issues of real chieftains’ biographies 16. Hence the turn to the aesthetic of the Italo-Western with the fourth sub-cycle: Apachen (Apaches, 1973) and Ulzana (1974). The fifth sub-cycle marks what I call the genre’s baroque period, when the studio unsuccessfully tried to revive itself with gimmicky Indianer content: the Dean Reed star vehicle Blutsbrüder (Blood Brothers, 1975), the culture-clash melodrama Severino (1977), and the incompetently directed trickster-thriller Der Scout (The Scout, 1983), about a Nez Perce guide who leads racist Union soldiers astray. A sixth sub-cycle could be formed out of the non-Roter Kreis films – Uli Weiss’ Blauvogel (1979) and Helge Trimpert’s Atkins (1985) – in that each film involves some aspect of the Indianer secondary world without the inclusion of Mitic himself.

Indianerfilme as Consumables

The emergence of the Indianerfilm came about as a result of what Annette Deeken has called the “Karl May Problem” – that German audiences cannot get enough of the popular good-vs.-evil American Indian fiction of 19th Century low-brow author Karl May, regardless of the passage of time or political climates 17. Our artifacts necessarily resemble more the Karl May content they supposedly oppose than other anti-westerns. West German Karl May film adaptations such as Der Schatz im Silbersee (The Treasure of Silver Lake, 1962) and the Winnetou (1963-5) trilogy shot in Yugoslavia and Italy by Horst Wendlandt had broken box-office records throughout Europe. These films ran well, despite their being panned by critics as mere pastiche of the “superior” American westerns of John Ford or Delmer Daves. East German audiences, who had been unofficially consuming Karl May novels for years on the black market and watching westerns on West German television, traveled down to Prague in the early 1960s to catch the latest of the Winnetou westerns, later for the brutal Italo-Westerns or the tongue-in-cheek Czech western Limonádový Joe aneb Konská opera (Lemonade Joe, or the Horse Opera, 1964). The genre interested the Eastern bloc audiences, in that it offered a specifically “American” playground to explore underdog struggles. “Genre” here indeed adheres to Jörg Schweinitz’s non-hierarchical definition: “an openly structured, intertextual system of stereotypes” 18. The GDR-specific “feeling that they lived on a reservation” behind the Berlin Wall, as Holger Briel (2012) put it, and long-standing GDR “Indian club” traditions also justify said interest. To boot, these westerns had more-or-less saved the West German film industry. In 1965, the cultural crackdown of the 11th Plenum in East Germany led to a number of films being shelved and the firing of DEFA founder Kurt Maetzig from his position as the head of Roter Kreis. Hans Mahlich and his chief dramaturg Günter Karl were in the meantime working on a German/Czech/Yugoslav adaptation of Welskopf-Henrich’s anti-May series The Sons of Great Bear for television. When Maetzig was replaced by Mahlich as head of Roter Kreis, the television mini-series transformed into a feature film of considerable budget with a relatively unknown Serbian sports education student who could ride (Mitic) as the star, and the rest became cinema history.

The East German filmmakers who created The Sons of Great Bear and their target pan-European audience found themselves preoccupied with several major topoi that the reception and scholarship of the films have for the most part merely reproduced. One was the genre’s wholesale embrace of the language of humanist “entertainment” (Unterhaltung), a concession to Western media cultures made, perhaps, in symbolic exchange for the utmost seriousness of the murder and exploitation of Native Americans 19. This gave license for East Germany to frame the films as ethnographic stunt shows: an ideologically-approved socialist “body” genre when the other body genres – horror, pornography, kung fu – were otherwise banned. For example, director Gottfried Kolditz proudly finds his efforts for improving the riding and action sequences of Falcon’s Trail as overcoming obstacles for future socialist productions in the same vein 20. Another was the films’ ideological departure from the racist American western, with its representations of indigenous Americans as anonymous and villainous, in favor of Native Americans as heroes and role-model socialists. This much is explained in the Sons of Great Bear‘s initial pitch from Mahlich and Karl: “We saw the possibility of creating an Indianerfilm that would differentiate itself from westerns that show Indians only as anonymous masses and hostile. Not the white oppressors but the Indians are in our case the heroes for the audience, Indians who can serve as role models in their courage, will to fight and love for their people” . 21n this same vein, the “off-screen qualities” of Indianerfilm star Mitic discussed by Gemünden – his athleticism, good looks, wisdom, affability, and anti-alcoholism – were also noted by his production team 22, though his good behavior off-screen (which helped sell his and the films’ authenticity) was only rewarded by a significant salary bump by his third DEFA film. 23 Another point raised in early criticism of the film was its romanticized view of the “noble savage,” a critique posited later by scholars such as Gemünden 24, Katrin Sieg 25  and Vera Dika 26, among many. While many of his peers waxed poetic about the “realistic” quality of the Sons of Great Bear, GDR critic Manfred Haacke comments that Mitic’s “eagle-eye stares and tree-like poses don’t quite fit as means of giving shape to real heroism, let alone permit one to lay claim to a realistic work of art” 27.11 Dramaturg Karl publicly defended his films against charges of racism on the basis that Indianer stories really “couldn’t do without the romantic qualities of [Native American] landscapes and lives”. 28 In other words, the uncomfortable position between these films’ laudable ambitions as works of solidarity with indigenous resistance against imperialism and the not-so-laudable race appropriation (i.e., Eastern Europeans dressed in ethnic drag) required to carry them out was already established once the films had hit the silver screen. The Germans loved a little exoticism, and a little realism to wash it down. Furthermore, the postcolonial dimensions of the films, namely the figurative struggle of celluloid Native Americans standing in for the Native American Rights or Civil Rights movements in the United States or the battles against U.S. imperialism in Vietnam, were leveraged to justify the films’ continued manufacture and development under the state discourse of solidarity. Quoting Karl from an early draft of the 1971 film Osceola, which is set near plantations in Florida during the 1830s: “The discrimination suffered by people of color is not only part of the USA’s unreflected past, but one of its burning contemporary problems. … The demonstration for equal rights for people of color merges with the demonstrations against the dirty war in Vietnam” 29. The GDR filmmakers and audience thus had at least three proper registers of reading the Indianerfilme: as a taste of the kinetic, violent world cinema becoming mainstream in the late 1960s, as a defiant, grassroots-socialist response to the racism and imperialism of the American past and present as well as the recent atrocities of the Holocaust, and as an ironic “blank parody” of a western 30 that nevertheless draws upon the nostalgia and alluring fantasy propositions of the genre. European consumers were thus able to engage in a popular sphere dialog with the Cold War superpowers while indulging in childhood fantasies of Manichean conflicts with fast horses and explosions.

Indianerfilme as Processed Remainder

Madeleine Casad has recently argued that the DEFA Indianerfilme contain use value as objects that resist the present, both as “post-Wende ‘camp'” and as serious markers of East German identity 31. Now that the Indianerfilme have proven to have a successful afterlife on VHS and DVD – outstripping all other titles in the Icestorm collection in sales – reviews within the last decade have all attempted to pin the tail on these films’ legacy. As expected of a global attention-based economy, this has resulted in a series of pieces endlessly reveling in the films’ novelty. J. Hoberman’s “When Westerns Were Un-American” emphasizes anti-fascist undertones and unintentional racism when he summarizes the Indianerfilme as such:

Indian tribes, usually led by the Yugoslav bodybuilder Gojko Mitic, struggle against various combinations of avaricious settlers, mendacious military officers, corrupt lawmen, and rapacious imperialists. Populated by greedy seekers of lebensraum and loot, as well as whip-cracking martinets shouting in German at their presumed racial inferiors (often played by Slavs), these movies have an unintended subtext . 32

In the 2012 New Yorker article “Socialist Cowboys,” Anna Altman emphasizes the affinities between the ideals of socialism and the obsession with Indianer, seeing them in terms of the open processing of German genocide and the building of community around tribal affiliations. She writes: “Here were East German actors posing as cowboys, acting out scenes of ethnic genocide and transport, expelling Indian communities with calls of, ‘We will exterminate you!'” 33. Amie Siegel’s popular documentary DDR/DDR (2008) insists on using Indianerfilm footage – in particular a canoe scene excerpted from Chingachgook played backwards – to illustrate a socialist metaphor about rivers flowing uphill. Mitic’s dynamic body movements in Siegel’s appropriation exhibit a vitalism within a socialist fantasy of reversed time; of looking at the alternatives to West German domination of East Germany, of capitalist cynicism over socialism re-fashioned, in Siegel’s vision, as hipster kitsch. Meanwhile, Alexander Osang writes of an odd quest to track down Mitic and his West German doppelgänger Pierre Brice (who played Winnetou in West Germany) in order to write an Indianerfilm in 2009: The Last Ride (Der letzte Ritt). 34 By that point, the Indianerfilm Der Schuh des Manitu (The Shoe of Manitu, 2001) had broken all box-office records in such a way as to feasibly provide some financial incentive to do so. But Osang’s meditation on a film-that-could-never-be continuously slips into the language of this infectious genre, calling Mitic “Chingachgook” and commenting – as Reinhard Wengierek did about Mitic in 1982 – on the actor’s well-toned torso as a means of fighting the encroaching cowboys 35.

The telos of these analyses appears to be a post-Cold War desire to master the Indianerfilm. Something elusive about socialism appears to be locked inside the genre, and something racist and perverse as well (though no more so than other film cultures). Much as the Indianerfilme invite an ironic reading, however, it appears impossible not to slip into the talking points of what has been said before about them. After all, most people know so little about Indianerfilme that parading their novelty is easy and piques many a filmgoer’s interest. Much as Jim Collins writes about films of the 1990s as constellations that slip readily between “eclectic irony” and “the new sincerity” 36, the Indianerfilme of the 1960s and 70s embrace a cocktail of irony and sincerity that begs for film critics to take a stand: Mitic as an openly fake Indian in redface doing nevertheless authentic stunts, fighting as the underdog against a 19th Century enemy that seemed equally omnipresent in the decades of the films’ creation. As those decades recede into history, however, we now unwittingly approach the films as a kind of socialist Star Wars (1977): an incoherent, pulpy universe that nevertheless hits all the right nostalgic and emotional notes in a Central and Eastern European audience accustomed to both irony (with regard to their present circumstances) and sincerity (with regard to past German and Soviet crimes). Mitic is authentic, his films are in dialog with real American Indian history, and the details feed into the simplistic arcs of revenge and rebuilding narratives. Like Star Wars, the Indianerfilme forge an immersive secondary world in which fandom can be at once ironic and sincere, in which anyone can one can access it from a variety of venues and still contribute to the world’s content. Mahlich and Karl created a story world that could feasibly run alongside the regular “socialist” brand without disrupting the carefully tended story worlds of the SED party. It is a world where East Germans could invent their own Native American massacres (as in Blood Brothers) to build an alternative universe of oppression and resistance, as artifacts proclaiming object lessons of Native American resistance that both a 6 year-old and a 40 year-old can contemplate equally. Dika (2007) claims that the Indianerfilm is “wearing the skin” of a U.S. genre as it died, and both Broe (2012) and Dika claim that under the skin of these genre films lies a lost desire for unification and an alternative socialism. This “desire” might well be extant, but not without a strong counter-presence of good old-fashioned hegemony. Given the earlier discussion of the institutions behind them, this article maintains that the Indianerfilme were massively subsidized by a state that wished to use them to rebuild the cinema audience and harvest foreign capital. That Mitic became the GDR’s one true, grassroots star – he had a Yugoslav pass and could leave, yet he stayed – forced the state itself to adopt a kind of ironic discourse regarding the films. The films were intentionally manufactured as artifacts of resistance: as toys that not only satiated the populace, but also as an Indianer playground that fostered a surrogate hope of overcoming collective difficulties as a socialist “tribe”. Seeing the films as both part of an immersive secondary world – “playing Indian” as the collective, if you will – and as a confluence of transnational flows and personnel helps us begin to unravel their now-enshrined double move as historical object lesson and mass entertainment, socialist filmcraft meeting sober meditations on history and wild German fantasy on the plains of an Eastern European America.

One postscript to my discussion here would be the current role of the Indianerfilm in German Studies, which typically has us teaching it as part of a survey on German film history. For their DEFA portion of the course, professors often screen The Murderers Are Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns, 1946), the first post-war German film and a serious confrontation with Nazi crimes, and then The Sons of Great Bear as a piece of GDR popular culture. We are intended to perceive socialism and anti-fascism in both, one serious and the other popular. In tandem with the screening of The Sons of Great Bear, students often read Katrin Sieg (1998) about the “ethnic drag” that Mitic is clearly performing (Hint: He’s not an Indian! That’s kind of racist!) and/or Gerd Gemünden (1998) on the East German kit-bashing of Karl May, Karl Marx, and Howard Hawks. Then the students write papers and masters theses at places like the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Stanford, Smith and Swarthmore about how the films 1) are kind of racist but kind of genuinely not, or 2) take and twist certain aesthetic tropes of the western toward “socialist” ends. These facts and discourses were all more-or-less known to the filmmakers and reviewers at the time, and are already baked into the final products. As artifacts of resistance, the films can also easily resist these dialogic readings as well, remaining curios in the Wunderkammer. What I would like to say here is that our inability in German film studies to adequately master the discourse and these films’ popularity beyond the conventional rubrics suggests that there are institutional logics with which we must reckon, and perhaps imaginaries lurking in the Indianerfilme, yet to be discovered.

Frames # 4 1-12-2013. This article © Evan Torner. This article has been peer-reviewed.


  1. Robert Gehl (2009) notably describes the archive of moving images on YouTube as a Wunderkammer and, given the breadth of what is available on that site, I would like to extend this metaphor to include all of cinema history.
  2. Here I refer to Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam (1982), Amok Assault Video (1989), Escape from Tomorrow (2013), and Luch smerti (1925) respectively.
  3. Good English-language overview articles and essays on the Indianerfilme include Gemünden (1998), Dika (2007), Broe (2012), Heiduschke (2013, 93-98), Ligensa (2012), and Briel (2012). German-language summaries and analyses include von Borries and Fischer (2008), Engelke and Kopp (2004), Wischnewski (1994) and Wehrstedt (1996).
  4. Fredric Jameson. “Globalization and Hybridization” in World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives, edited by Natasa Durovicova and Kathleen Newman. New York: Routledge, 2010. 315-319.
  5. “Perverse” as in Janet Staiger’s proposed reception framework in her book Perverse Spectators (2000).
  6. Hartmut Lutz. “German Indianthusiasm: A Socially Constructed German Nationalist Myth” in Germans and Indians, edited by Colin G Calloway, Gerd Gemunden and Susanne Zantop. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002. 167-184.
  7. “The DEFA ‘Indianerfilm’: Narrating the Postcolonial through Gojko Mitic” in Re-imagining DEFA. East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Context, edited by Seán Allan and Sebastian Heiduschke. New York: Berghahn Books, 2014
  8. Michael Sayler. As If: Modern Enchantment and The Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality. Oxford: OUP. 2012.
  9. “Have Dialectic, Will Travel” in A Companion to German Cinema, edited by Terri Ginsberg and Andreas Mensch. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2012, 27-54.
  10. For more on object-oriented philosophy, see Bogost (2012) and Harman (2005).
  11. Tägliche Rundschau. 18 May 1946, translated from the German (Allan and Sandford, 1999, 3).
  12. Ralf Schenk. “DEFA (1946-1992)” in 100 Years Studio Babelsberg, edited by Michael Wedel, Ralf Schenk, and Chris Wall. Berlin: teNeues, 2012, 114-119.
  13. See, for example, Loshitzky (2012) on James Cameron’s Avatar (2009)
  14. Tim Bergfelder. International Adventures: Popular German Cinema and European Co-Productions in the 1960s. New York: Berghahn, 2005.
  15. Gerd Gemünden. “Between Karl May and Karl Marx”. Film History 10: 3 (1998): 399-407.
  16. Heinz Hofmann. “Ein neuer Held auf DEFA-Indianerpfad”. Nationalzeitung Berlin. 3 July 1973.
  17. Annette Deeken. “Die Erfindung des DEFA-Indianers: Eine deutsch-deutsche Mediengeschichte” in Indianer vor der Kamera, edited by Thomas Koebner. München: edition text+kritik, 2011, 158-180.
  18. Schweinitz, Jörg. Film and Stereotype: A Challenge for Cinema and Theory, translated by Laura Schleussner. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.
  19. Jon Raundalen. “A Communist Takeover in the Dream Factory–Appropriation of Popular Genres by the East German Film Industry”. Slavonica 11: 1 (April 2005): 69-86.
  20. Gottfried Kolditz. “Morgen Interview mit DEFA-Regisseur Dr. Gottfried Kolditz”. Der Morgen 30 July 1967.
  21. Hans Mahlich and Günter Karl. “Prädikatisierungsvorschlag zum Film ‘Die Söhne der Großen Bärin'”. 13 January 1966.Translated from: “Nicht die weißen Unterdrücker, sondern die Indianer, sind in unserem Fall die Helden für die Zuschauer, die ihnen durch ihren Mut und ihren Kampfeswillen und ihre Liebe zu ihrem Volk als Vorbild dienen können.”
  22. Gemünden, 404.
  23. According to the production report of Falcon’s Trail, Mitic was paid 500 Ostmarks for every shooting day, the top salary for the production (according to Bundesarchiv DR 117 / 30427 / Dispositionen), whereas for Sons he was paid half that sum (Cf. Bundesarchiv DR 117 / 30340 / Dispositionen).
  24. Ibid
  25. “Ethnic Drag and National Identity: Multicultural Crisis, Crossings and Interventions” in The Imperialist Imagination: German Colonialism and Its Legacy, edited by
  26. “An East German Indianerfilm: the bear in sheep’s clothing”. Jump Cut 50 (2008) Accessed May 9, 2009,
  27. Manfred Haacke. “Ausverkaufte Adlerblicke”. Volksstimme. 25 February 1966. Translated from: “Adlerblicke und Eichenposen dürften doch wohl heute nicht mehr recht am Platze sein, um wahrem Heroismus Gestalt zu verleihen, geschweige Anspruch auf ein realistisches Kunstwerk zu erheben.”
  28. Translated in part from the complete sentence: “Wir wollen einen historisch wahren Ausschnitt aus der Geschichte der nordamerikanischen Indianer bieten, ohne dabei auf die Attraktivität des Milieus, die Romantik der Landschaft und des Lebens zu verzichten.”
  29. Günter Karl. “Osceola Skizze. 1. Fassung”. 4 July 1967. Bundesarchiv DR117 / 6639. Translated from: “Die Diskriminierung farbiger Menschen ist für die USA nicht nur unbewältigte Vergangenheit, sondern eins der brennenden Gegenwartsprobleme … Die Demonstrationen für die Gleichberechtigung der Farbigen verschmelzen mit den Demonstrationen gegen den schmutzigen Krieg in Vietnam.”
  30. Vera Dike. “An East German Indianerfilm: the bear in sheep’s clothing”. Jump Cut 50 (2008) Accessed May 9, 2009,
  31. “Rescreening Memory Beyond the Wall”. The Germanic Review 88: 3 (2013): 320-338.
  32. “When Westerns Were Un-American”. New York Review of Books. 1 June 2012.
  33. Altman, Anna. “Socialist Cowboys”. The New Yorker. 13 April 2012.
  34. Madeiline Casad writes about the pioneering piece of DVD artwork The Last Cowboy (1998), which uses Indianerfilm footage. One cannot help but think that this elegiac tone also underpinned the conception of The Last Ride.
  35. Alexander Osang. “Die ewigen Jagdgründe: Eine Indianergeschichte”. Textarchiv. 27 February 2010; Reinhard Wengierek. “Das Terrain ausschreiten – nicht verlassen”. Filmspiegel. 82: 5 (1982).
  36. Jim Collins. “Genericity in the Nineties: Eclectic Irony and the New Sincerity” in Film Theory – Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies 2, edited by Philip Simpson, Andrew Utterson and K.J. Shepherdson. New York: Routledge, 2004, 160-180.