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Created by Karl May
Gender Male
Occupation Indian Chief

Winnetou is a fictional Native American hero of several novels written by Karl May (1842-1912, with about 200 million copies worldwide one of the best selling German writers of all time) in German, including the sequels Winnetou I through Winnetou III. According to Karl May's story, first-person narrator Old Shatterhand encounters Winnetou and after initial dramatic events, a true friendship between Old Shatterhand and the Apache Winnetou arises; on many occasions they give proof of great fighting skill but also of compassion for other human beings. It portrays a belief in an innate "goodness" of mankind, albeit constantly threatened by ill-intentioned enemies.

Non-dogmatic Christian feelings and values play an important role, and May's heroes are often described as German Americans.

Winnetou became the chief of the tribe of the Mescalero Apaches (and of the Apaches in general, with the Navajo included) after his father Intschu-tschuna and his sister Nscho-tschi were slain by the white bandit Santer. He rode a horse called Iltschi ("Wind") and had a famous rifle called "Silberbüchse" ("The Silver Gun", a double-barrel rifle whose stock and butt were decorated with silver studs). Old Shatterhand became the blood brother of Winnetou and rode the brother of Iltschi, called Hatatitla ("Lightning").

Karl May's "Winnetou" novels symbolize, to some extent, a romantic desire for a simpler life in close contact with nature. In fact, the popularity of the series is due in large part to the ability of the stories to tantalize fantasies many Europeans had and have for this more untamed environment. The sequel has become the origin of festivals, and the first regular Karl-May-Spiele were staged 1938 till 1941 in Rathen Saxony. Eastern Germany restarted those open air theater plays in 1984. In Western Germany the "Karl-May-Festspiele" or "Karl-May-Spiele" in Bad Segeberg were started as early as 1950 and then expanded to further places like Lennestadt-Elspe in honor of Karl May or, rather, of his Apache hero, Winnetou. Now, they are never difficult to find in either Germany or Austria.

May's heroes drew on archetypes of Germanic culture and had little to do with actual Native American cultures. "Winnetou is noble because he combines the highest aspects of otherwise "decadent" Indian cultures with the natural adoption of the romantic and Christian traits of Karl May's own vision of German civilization. As he is dying, the Apache Winnetou asks some settlers to sing an Ave Maria for him, and his death is sanctified by his quiet conversion to Christianity." [1]

In the 60's, French nobleman and B-movie actor Pierre Brice played Winnetou in several movies coproduced by German - Yugoslav producers. Brice first was not very excited about the role beside Lex Barker but his very reduced text and stage play brought Winnetou to real life in Germany. Pierre Brice became not only a star in Germany, but a significant contributor to German-French reconciliation as well.


[edit] Original German Winnetou stories

[edit] Travel stories

  • Old Firehand (1875)
  • Winnetou (1878, titular character Inn-nu-wo, der Indianerhäuptling (1875) is changed)
  • Im fernen Westen (1879, revision of Old Firehand, later revised for Winnetou II)
  • Deadly Dust (1880, later revised for Winnetou III')
  • Die Both Shatters (1882)
  • Ein Oelbrand (1882/83)
  • Im â»wilden Westenâ« Nordamerika's (1882/83, later revised for Winnetou III)
  • Der Scout (1888/89, later revised for Winnetou II)
  • Winnetou I (1893, temporarily also entitled as Winnetou der Rote Gentleman I)
  • Winnetou II (1893, temporarily also entitled as Winnetou der Rote Gentleman II)
  • Winnetou III (1893, temporarily also entitled as Winnetou der Rote Gentleman III)
  • Old Surehand I (1894)
  • Old Surehand II (1895)
  • Old Surehand III (1896)
  • Satan und Ischariot I (1896)
  • Satan und Ischariot II (1897)
  • Satan und Ischariot III (1897)
  • Gott läßt sich nicht spotten (within Auf fremden Pfaden, 1897)
  • Ein Blizzard (within Auf fremden Pfaden, 1897)
  • Mutterliebe (1897/98)
  • âžWeihnacht!â (1897)
  • Winnetou IV (1910)

[edit] Stories for the youth

  • Im fernen Westen (1879, revision of Old Firehand)
  • Unter der Windhose (1886, later also within Old Surehand II)
  • Der Sohn des Bärenjägers (1887, within Die Helden des Westens since 1890)
  • Der Geist des Llano estakado (1888, within Die Helden des Westens since 1890)
  • Der Schatz im Silbersee (1890/91)
  • Der Oelprinz (1893/94)
  • Der schwarze Mustang (1896/97)

[edit] Other work

  • Auf der See gefangen (1878/79, also entitled as Auf hoher See gefangen)

[edit] Karl May movies with Winnetou character

In all the following movies, Winnetou was played by French actor Pierre Brice who was usually teamed with Lex Barker as Old Shatterhand. The music for all Winnetou movies (with its famous title melody played on the harmonica by the late Johnny Müller) was composed by German composer Martin Boettcher, except Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand, which was composed by German composer Peter Thomas. The films were so successful in Germany that their budgets could be increased almost every time. Principal shooting usually took place in national park Paklenica karst river canyon, Yugoslavia now Croatia. The early films preceded the spaghetti western.

  • Der Schatz im Silbersee (1962) - Treasure of Silver Lake (1965) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Winnetou 1. Teil (1963) - Apache Gold (1965) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Old Shatterhand (1964) - Apaches Last Battle (1964) (UK) (Yugoslavia)
  • Winnetou 2. Teil (1964) - Last of the Renegades (1966) (UK) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Unter Geiern (1964) - Frontier Hellcat (1966) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Der Ölprinz (1965) - Rampage at Apache Wells (1965) (Yugoslavia)
  • Winnetou - 3. Teil (1965) - Winnetou: The Desperado Trail (1965) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Old Surehand 1. Teil (1965) - Flaming Frontier (1969) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi (1966) - Half-Breed (1973) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand (1966) - Thunder at the Border (1966) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)
  • Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten (1968) - Winnetou and Shatterhand in the Valley of Death (1968) (Germany) (Yugoslavia)

All of the Winnetou movies are available on VHS tape (PAL) (some also dubbed in English under the above mentioned English titles). "Winnetou I - III", "Der Schatz im Silbersee", "Old Shatterhand" and "Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten" are also available on DVD (region-code 2) - but all in German only. Within 2004/2005 the missing movies will also appear on DVD - DVD extras until now are unknown. In 2001 a parody of the Winnetou films, "Der Schuh des Manitu", was directed by Michael Herbig.

In April 2009 started in Czech republic DVD edition of cleared and reconstructed movies its selling as add-on to newspaper Metro for 50,- Czech crowns. All movies will be with Czech/German dubbing and Czech/slovak subtitles.

[edit] TV miniseries

Also in the following series, Winnetou was played by French actor Pierre Brice.

  • Mein Freund Winnetou (1980) - My friend Winnetou - Winnetou le Mescalero, 7 episodes at 52 min.
  • Winnetous Rückkehr ("The return of Winnetou") (1998), 2 parts, 171 min. in total

[edit] Trivia

The German writer Carl Zuckmayer was intrigued by the Apache and named his daughter Maria Winnetou (* 1926). She was unhappy with this name.[2]

Director Quentin Tarantino mentioned Winnetou in his 2009 film Inglorious Basterds.

[edit] English translations of Karl May's works

[edit] References

  1. ^ Karl May's books, exhibit notes
  2. ^ Michael Petzel & Jürgen Wehnert: Das neue Lexikon rund um Karl May. Lexikon Imprint Verlag, Berlin 2002.

[edit] External links

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