Monday, December 26, 2016

Winnetou & Old Shatterhand

Winnetou – Eine neue Welt; western, Germany, 2016; D: Philipp Stölzl, S: Wotan Wilke Möhring, Nik Xhelilaj, Jürgen Vogel, Milan Peschel, Iazua Larios, Rainer Bock, Gojko Mitić, Jani Zombori Banovac

The Wild West, 19th Century. Karl May, a German from Sachsen, is sent to be an engineer in a company that is building a railway straight through the wilderness of the unexplored American continent. When Indians attack the workers on the meadow, May is wounded by an arrow, but still fights with an Indian, Winnetou, for his life – this earns him respect and thus the Indians decide to let him live. With the help of Nscho Tschi, who speaks a little bit of his language, he makes friends with Winnetou and the tribe. May tries to convince the railway company workers to bypass the Indian land, but the greedy executives order the employee to gun down Indians with a machine-gun. Still, Winnetou and May, now called "Old Shatterhand", manage to blow up a key bridge of the railroad with dynamite, thereby foiling their plans.

A modern remake of the mega popular '63 German film "Winnetou", which marked a rare example of a "German Western", Philipp Stolzl's "Winnetou & Old Shatterhand", the 1st part of the trilogy, is a solid, albeit strangely routine and standard achievement: for all its correct tone and a balanced approach, it seems that more care was dedicated to the technical aspects of the film, than the film (and its characters) itself. Still, the initial concept is exciting since it follows Karl May as he observes how the railway is being built through the unknown wilderness of the American continent of the 19th century, which conjures up a good mood of mystery and the unknown, since they never know what they might encounter so far away from civilization. The cooperation and mutual understanding between May and Indian Winnetou gives pacifist, wise and calm messages about tolerance, whereas the landscapes in Croatian Lika really seem like a world for itself. Not a real "bulls-eye", but a few comical or humorous moments manage to liven up the film (in the shootout near the end, for instance, a woman complains to her husband, the banker, that he should "finally act like a man at least once in his life" and go fight, instead of hiding behind a barrel, but he gives a convenient excuse: "I am just worried about you, honey! If they shoot me, who will take care of you?").


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