Winnetou Films (1962–1968)

(Silvanito) #1

These german made “spaghetti westerns” from the early 60s were, and still is I believe, extremely popular in Germany. They were based on adventure novels by german writer Karl May.

Their success was actually a major influence on the italian film industry to start making westerns, and in the end it lead to Leone making his first Dollars film.

The first Winnetou film was “Der Schatz im Silbersee” in 1962, directed by Harald Reinl, it was a big success and lead to many more films being made about the adventures of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand.

I have only seen clips of these films, you who have seen more please tell us about them. I’m sure you german guys are very familiar with them, which ones are you’re favourites?

(valenciano) #2

I was just thinking about them, wondering if they are interesting for this forum. I would not consider them spaghettis but for sure eurowestern(let´s create mor subgenre). “Schatz im Silbersee”(meaning Treasure in the silver lake) is very enjoyable, with a cool ending. MAjor difference to most spaghettis is that there are still real good guys with high morals. Also interesting is that at least some indians are also good and a major focus is on them and even their culture.

I (and i would say at least every other guy now from 15 to 70) have seen them in my youth and also read some books.(Karl May also made interesting adventure novels that take place in the arab world). I think pierre briece (Winnetou) and Lex Barker (Old Shatterhand) were the heroes of many young guys, especially when they dressed up as cowboy and indian for playing games or for carnival.

I like the Winnetou trilogy alot. Cannot remember them too much though. They are also two german towns(Elspe and Bad Segeberg) where the stories are shown in a theater style in larger arena; this is called “Karl-MAy-Festspiele”. I was there once and it is great.

I personally would say that all KArl May based movies(there are also one about the stories in the arab world) are well made western/adventure movies. They don´t come close to most spaghettis in the aspects of violence or political motives.

I just checked and there are some box set, that seem to have english audio:
three movies: schatz im Silbersee, very good
Old surehand, dont remember that one, comments point it out as on of the weakest MAy based films
winnetou und das halblut apanatschi, dont know it, pointed out as average
if you are interested i can try to investigate a bit more into it, and i guess others in this forum know much more about it.

All movies were shot in yugoslavia and the landscape there looks very westernish.

(tom) #3

also what is nice about the winnetou movies that there are some playing in them who became later more sucsesfull in the spaghetties - terence hill and klauskinski can be found in a few winnetou movies and there are more acters.

the stories and the admospfere is not bad at all, the winnetou movies are great adventure movies.
they are all available on dvd and some of them are in english and also a few are in german with english subs.

in germany these movies are still popular, I recorded 4 or 5 winnetou movies during the christmas days from digital tv. :wink:

(Silvanito) #4

Yes these films definitely seem very interesting, I must get around to watching them, and they definitely are a part of the history of italian spaghetti westerns, even if they are more eurowesterns than true spaghetti westerns :slight_smile:

(valenciano) #5

I am not too sure but I think there is not too much Italian influence in them. I can only imagine that the influence was on italian filmmakers that westerns can be succesfull too in europe if they are made in europe.
And it maybe made european studios more open to pay for italian westerns. And of course it gave actors a reason to play in following westerns.

(Silvanito) #6

Yes that’s what I meant, they’re a part of the overall filmhistory regarding spaghetti westerns :slight_smile:

(Bluntwolf) #7

The Karl May/Winnetou movies are really great, I loved them when I was a child and they are still fun to watch. I wrote about it before somewhere in this forum : Those movies are not to be compared to SW, they don’t even come close. They’re mainly western FAIRYTALES about cowboys and indians. Extremely popular in Germany they run almost every year around christmas or other holidays. I agree that they probably had a big impact on later filmed Eurowesterns/SW, mainly due to their big success. Europeans became aware that not only American westerns sell and that Europeans as well as Americans are able to produce quality type westerns !!!

Silvanito, you were lookking for DEFA-Westerns (East-German). Look at for Westerns, they have a bunch but only German dubbing (well, in East-Germany they didn’t speak English of course !!! Maybe they have Russian dubbing :wink: !?) !!!

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(Yodlaf Peterson) #8

i have never actually seen any of these films, i nearly got some Karl May films once but didn’t have enough money.

(tom) #9

there are some english versions of the winnetou movies. they were released in holland in english with dutch subs, some of the gojko mitic are in england available on dvd in english.

(Lanky gunman) #10

I saw most of them on french TV when i was kid (every Christmas!) I have good souvenir of them,ideal movies for childrens with a wonderful photo of the yougoslavian countryside.
Unfortunatly there is no DVD realise in france and i dont know if there is one in english.

(R-T-C Tim) #11

If anyone is interesting in finding out more about the films, I wrote an extensive article on the series for my website, along with details on the German DVD releases (several of which include English audio and subtitles).

(Yodlaf Peterson) #12

i stumbled over a German western the other day called “Pirates of the Mississippi”, does anyone know if it is any good? :slight_smile:

(Raph_Alv) #13

Hi Yodlaf, this film has Horst Frank, so a common villian on the SW´s, and some indians, a very interesting plot, but with a american feeling.

(Yodlaf Peterson) #14

Cheers Raph
is it worth me picking up, it’s about £9.

(Raph_Alv) #15

It has english subtitles ?
I remember Gotjo Mitko, there are some in dvd, but like it was said, non english options, or some subtitle in ???

(Yodlaf Peterson) #16

too late now it’s gone!

(DutchEngstrom) #17

There is a strong fan base for the Winnetou’s in Czechoslavakia, for some reason. Probably the close proximity to Germany.


There is a strong fan base for WINNETOU FILMS all over Europe and many of its stars :


Had a series of BIG HITS in the German/Belgium/Holland POP charts.

EXCELLENT All round what evocative memories. :smiley:

(Squonkamatic) #19

I love all of them, the one I am most familiar with is TREASURE OF SILVER LAKE but have a couple other on Greek videos, all nicely widescreen and very convincing looking Westerns. I like the dignity with which the Native American tribes are handled, even if they are just Yugoslavian extras these films were way ahead of the curve as far as creating Indians that were not just pop up targets for the white heroes to shoot at. I also love how different the landscapes look – after a few dozen Italian/Spanish Spaghettis you get to know certain rock formations, hillsides or roads that always seem to be used as locations. The Winnetou films look so different from even American made Westerns that they have a special place in my admirations, it’s almost like they were filmed on another planet and give the films a visual language that is very unique. I would love to have all of them in my collection at some point.

One side note that may be of interest is that I’ve had the privilege to have an email friendship with director Christophe Gans, who is a huge Spaghetti fan, and at one point I remarked that his hero duo of Fronsac & Mani from BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF reminded me a lot of Old Shatterhand & Winnetou … and he confirmed that yes, they were the inspiration for the pair, and that no other critics or writers etc had noted the similarity. More proof that it does indeed pay to sit around watching grubby old rental tapes of stuff most people wouldn’t even look twice at.


Very Good to have new fans of the Magnificent WINNETOU FILMS on this SW board.
My own very favourites are the 3 Winnetous with STEWART GRANGER but I admire
enormously ALL the LEX BARKER Winnetous like Treasure Of Silver Lake 1965 etc.
I absolutely love all the stupendous Yugoslavian locations, top notch casts, superb music
plus outstanding directors like HARALD REINL make these films classic works of art.
The Leading ladies in Winnetou Films like KARIN DOR, LETICIA ROMAN, MARIE VERSINI :-*
were extremely talented, beautiful and memorable :-* :-* :-*
CROATIA is recovering well from the terrible Balkan Wars and is a fascinating, picturesque
country that was used for many wonderful westerns. Major MILLION SELLING Croatian
singers like IVECA SERFEZI, TERESA VESUVIJA and DANY MARSAN are Works of pure ART.

The Winnetou Films are available on the German Amazon.De in the famous Green Dvds
and most have an English dubbed audio track :D. Outstanding picture quality and class.