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Karl-May-Forum • View topic - Very Early Winnetou “Film”

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 Post subject: Very Early Winnetou “Film”
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 9:20 am 
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Forum readers may be interested in having a look at the following live auction item (in Germany) listed on eBay:



The item is a Mutoscope, a device of the early 1900s that presents a short “film” on a series of photo-cards that rapidly flip by the viewing window. Mutoscopes were widely used at fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks, and quite a number have survived. They, and their “films” appear to have been more durable than the viewers that used actual film-strips.

What is interesting about the Mutoscope in question, as far as Karl May fans are concerned, is that the “film” in the machine for sale is a Winnetou story, possibly entitled Der Überfall in der Prärie (The Attack on the Prairie). More interesting is the fact that the characters appear to be portrayed primarily by children, and the horses by miniature horses (like the miniature horse ridden by Happy in Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi). The pictures in the auction listing can be enlarged by “clicking” on the magnifying glass icons. I have saved these pictures. If any reader is interested to see them after the auction has ended and the listing has disappeared from eBay, please let me know. It would be wonderful if the purchaser of this Mutoscope could preserve the film by making a video copy. :idea:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:08 am 
I've posted this item in our sister forum ... it might be of interest to the Museum ... thank you Philip - how delightful !


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:34 am 
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Yes, of course........this is an item that should be preserved. I wish I had found the auction a bit sooner; there is not much time left. On the other hand, the starting bid is sufficiently high that, unless there are specialised Karl May bidders involved, there may be no bids, enabling the museum to negotiate with the seller.

This Mutoscope (a German Rotofoto version) looks later than 1910. The body is die-cast metal, and it has an appearance of the 1920s or 1930s. The particular blue colour is typical of the 1930s. However, the card roll, or its photographic source, might well be of earlier vintage. It would be delightful to see more images from the roll, which as far as I am concerned, is far more valuable than the machine itself.

Here is a web-page that shows the various forms of Mutoscope viewers, including a Rotofoto:



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 11:47 am 
The point that really fascinates me personally is that the subject are Karl May's creations. It simply demonstrates that Karl May, his work, his portraying of other cultures has permeated the social fabric so much that we find him in such rare forms as this 'rotoscope'; and yes, the 'actors' are children/teenagers, there are a few donkeys pulling the wagon, but also ponies (the kids' feet dangle below their bellies), especially the mounts of 'Old Shatterhand and Winnetou'. Absolutely charming!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 1:22 pm 
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Are these horses (the mounts of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand) ponies that would grow to full size, or are they of a miniature variety? I am no horse expert, but it always seemed to me that Happy’s horse in Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi was of a miniature type, based on its proportions. However, the horses in the Rotofoto may be different, though even the donkeys pulling the cart (charmingly made into a covered wagon) seem smaller than normal. You would know much more about this than I, Marlies.

The idea of young people playing Karl May’s characters is actually quite splendid, and it continues to this day in a special series of open-air plays, on the model of Bad Segeberg, et al:



Yes, Karl May won in the end, and based on the glorious Winnetou IIII / Winnetous Erben / Winnetou’s Heirs, I think that he realised it. He is amongst the few authors in history to have created immortal characters, and his beautiful ideas have survived the basest of attacks. Both have indeed become a part of life.

By the way, the photographs have disappeared from the eBay listing. I have no idea what has happened; it may be a temporary fault. But as I mentioned above, I have saved all of the pictures and can provide them on request.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 2:28 pm 
Well ... many 'ponies' are larger than 'mini' horses (14 hands being the threshold between 'pony' and 'regular horse' [140cm at withers] where I come from) ... it is too varied to even hazard a guess, especially from those photos, as the pictures seemed to have been distorted a little. Donkeys are small - mine are 'normal' size [I've never measured them] - with the withers about 30/40cm below my shoulder. BTW - not all 'ponies' have an obviously woolly mane; having said that, I admit that I am unfamiliar with the morphological difference between 'mini' horse and 'pony' - never had the inclination to find out.
Some more on miniature horses:
http://www.mini-horse.org/mini_horse_history.html

About the disappearance of the pics on the ebay item ... maybe someone read this post :-) [one can safely assume, though, that the copyright on those images has expired].
:wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:43 am 
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The pictures have returned to the auction listing. The final price was €1,100! This seems a very high price for the Rotofoto machine, so perhaps the bidders were actually interested in the Karl May card-roll. I hope that the entire “film” will somehow be made available to Karl May scholars.

It is hard to say what the title of the film was. There are two text frames shown in the listing pictures:

Der Überfall in der Prärie (The Attack on the Prairie)

Old Shatterhand und Winnetou Greifen Ein (Old Shatterhand and Winnetou Seize One) [This translation may not be accurate]

Both of these may merely describe the action, as in silent films. Often Mutoscopes and similar machines had placards mounted on top with the titles, or with miniature posters, but these rarely survived.

I must embarrassedly confess that I was using the term “pony” in reference to a horse that was not fully grown, like a colt.:oops: This was a temporary lapse; I have seen Shetland ponies, for example. And, of course, neither Happy’s horse, nor the horses in the Rotofoto film, have the proportions of a colt! What was I thinking?:oops: Many thanks, Marlies, for pointing out the difference between miniature horses, ponies, and ordinary horses! Some of the miniature horses on the web-pages you cited are extraordinarily small—and very cute. I think that Happy’s horse must have been closer to a pony, but the horses in the Rotofoto film may be smaller.

From the standpoint of rational morality, a copyright can never expire. Legally, there are variances throughout the world. I think that the Rotofoto film falls under the German copyright duration of fifty years after publication of a photograph or photographs, so legally, the copyright has likely expired. However, the images on the auction listing are pictures made by the seller, of the photographs on the card-roll. These specific images are copyright (on the part of the seller), and this is why I have not suggested that they be posted on the internet.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:18 am 
The translation would be "Old Shatterhand and Winnetou intervene" as in this syntax the verb 'eingreifen' is split into 'greifen' and 'ein', and reversed ... (don't ask ... :roll: ).

Anyway ... it was my thought as well that the 'title cards' were like the 'in-between' explanation texts (narrative text) in silent movies ...

It fetched a whopping price ...

:wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 12:22 pm 
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I was rather sure that translation was wrong! :? :( Many thanks for the explanation. 8)

I would love to see the Rotofoto film. Hopefully, the auction was won by a Karl May fan who will eventually make the film available. It appears to be the very first Winnetou film ever made, and by many years. :!: :o


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 Post subject: Winnetou and Old Shatterhand attack
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 1:02 pm 
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Hello Philip - nice to hear from you! The correct translation is "Winnetou and Old Shatterhand attack". It is used commonly in German - see for example "Infantry Attacks" (in German: "Infanterie greift an") a classic book on military tactics written by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. He planned to write "Tank In Attack" (in German: "Panzer greift an"). In the movie on general Patton where George C. Scott yells, "Rommel, you magnificent ... "I read your book!" is a scene where Patton is woken by his aides with news that Rommel's attack is in progress, the camera focuses on a book on Patton's bedside table which is entitled "The Tank in Attack" ["Panzer greift an"].


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:47 pm 
Hello Bill

Angreifen : Old Shatterhand und Winnetou greifen AN ... would be attack.

In this case the title was ... Old Shatterhand und Winnetou greifen EIN ...

Eingreifen : 'step in' or 'intervene' (and if it is unwanted, it is 'interfere' or 'encroach') (Langenscheidt)

:wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:51 am 
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Thank you Marlies for the explanation - Well - after all I am not German ...


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:29 am 
Hi Bill

:wink: Swiss Precision :wink: you know what they say: you can take a girl out of Helvetia, but you can't take Helvetia out of the girl (or something like that :wink: )

Just like Philip, I'd love to see the entire Rotofoto clip, I think it would be charming to watch that early 'flick' ... :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:19 am 
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I suspect that Bill misread the discussion above. In any event, it led to more interesting bits about the German language, which I appreciate.:o

Bill, I check this forum almost every day, even when I lack the time to post messages. I am hoping that some forum members and readers will take up my suggestion in the new “Lounge Bar” section, and post comments or questions that will stimulate new areas of discussion. In the mean time, I am reading your book Karl May: A Medical Casebook (which is loaded with fascinating information, and which is a splendid argument in support of May’s integrity of character—and against his malicious and often idiotic or disturbed detractors).

Marlies, I was dismayed that there was no response on the German sister forum, to your announcement of the early Winnetou film. :? :roll: :( :cry: I think this was a fascinating topic. 8)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 3:23 am 
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Hello Philip - I think Marlies is getting the discussion news from KMG [Karl May Society] per e-mail as well - today I received 57 (fifty-seven) e-mails from there - mainly local themes (I wish I had the time to read them all) - no wonder they have no time for anything else!


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