Die Söhne der großen Bärin (1966)




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Gojko Mitic's 1966 East German eurowestern Die Söhne der großen Bärin (AKA Sons of the Great Bear dramatizes the exploitation and manipulation of Native American tribes by white settlers. The story opens with a familiar conflict between the Indians, who were promised the lands surrounding the Black Hills, and the settlers, who want to revoke their agreements by forcing the Indians out. When gold is discovered in the region, Indian Red Fox insists that Chief Mattotaupa, head of the Bears clan, show him the cave where the deposits lie. Mattotaupa refuses, so Red Fox stabs him, in the presence of the chief's son, Tokei-ihto. Lieutenant Roach summons Tokei-ihto to Fort Smith for negotiations, but Tokei-ihto smells a rat and suspects that a white ambush lies in store, a suspicion affirmed in his mind when he happens upon Red Fox at the fort. The settlers indeed insist that Tokei-ihto and his people relocate to infertile ground, but Tokei-ihto refuses, much to the chagrin of his aggressors, who imprison the entire tribe, defeat the Dakota Indians, and murder their leader, Chief Tashunka-witko. They release Tokei-ihto, who now plans to relocate the tribe to fertile ground, but during the exodus, he happens upon Red Fox and a struggle-to-the-death ensues, with Tokei-ihto the winner. Recently restored and reissued on home video by the DEFA film archive at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Sons of the Great Bear carries tremendous historical significance, as it beget an entire series of German westerns, influenced by American cinematizations of the old west.


Gojko Mitic
as Toeki-Itho

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