Leipzig - The Serbian-German actor Gojko Mitic (80) embodied numerous historical and fictional personalities of native American people in the GDR. He’s reported how a single phone call turned his entire life upside down and what he had to say about the discussion about the use of the term "Indian".
[Gojko Mitic (80) initially only earned pocket money as a young student with his numerous film offers.]
Since the 1960s Mitic had repeatedly made smaller and larger appearances on television, his big appearance as chief Tokeiihto he had in 1966 in the DEFA western film "The Sons of the Great Bear". How he got the role was more or less a coincidence, as the now 80-year-old riverboat presenter Jörg Kachelmann (62) reported.
"Well, I had already made a couple of Indian films with Karl May in the Federal Republic of Germany, and DEFA has set its sights on making Indian films as well. Karl May's books had already been sold for the film, so they were considering making their own films and their own stories," Mitic recalled.
As a physical education student at the time, the film offers gave him the opportunity to earn some extra money.
"And one day the phone rang for me. I had already packed up and actually wanted to go out the door and then picked it up anyway. It was the secretary of Yugoslavia-Film who said: Thank God that I can reach you. You have to come to us immediately, please. I said: I have to go to the ski immediately! She said: Please, please come to us immediately, DEFA is here and wants to speak to you. So I'm there," said Mitic about the unusual Call.
Mitic sums up his career: "If I hadn't answered the phone, I wouldn't be here today!"
Since the then 26-year-old could both ride and could speak German, the producers hired him straight away.[Gojko Mitic played the Indian chief Tokeiihto in the DEFA film "The Sons of the Great Bear" in 1966.]
"If I hadn't answered the phone, I wouldn't be here today. I was also able to help a lot with the implementation of this film. I also did all the stunts myself because I always said: A double doesn't do it as well as I do", Mitic looked further back.
Incidentally, Mitic cannot understand the current discussion about the designation "Indian". The term "Indians" is viewed by some members of indigenous tribes as problematic or discriminatory, as this name does not come from the indigenous people themselves - furthermore, it is regarded by some parties as offensive if one disguises oneself as an Indian for Mardi Gras or Carnival.
"I honestly don't understand how one can understand Indians as a swear word. Karl May already brought us closer to the Indians. He made an Apache his blood brother. We like these people. Let's go back in history. There you have someone who discovered a continent and thought he was in India. That is why the people there were called Indians. But it was America," summarized Mitic.
But then he also gave in: "Maybe we can call you differently: the real Americans! They have lived there for thousands of years."