The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 25, 2004
When she was a child, Stefka Ammon dreamed that her hero, Winnetou the warrior, would come and rescue her – sort of like the proverbial white knight on a horse.
In Ammon’s short film, My Winnetou (2003), Winnetou does just that. But Ammon is now an adult, and she realizes that her Winnetou is just a personnel projection of a culture that probably never existed.
Ammon’s film screens as part of Wild West, a travelling exhibit that examines the myth and reality of the Old West through the eyes of four artists (two Germans, a Norwegian and an American). Wild West opens today, June 25 (2004), and runs through July at 516 Magnifico Artspace in Albuquerque. Ammon is also the unofficial organizer of the event (she doesn’t think the term curator applies) and the one who is probably the most in love with Winnetou.
“Winnetou was my personal hero,” Ammon said by phone from Berlin, where she resides. “He was like the prince, which means that if he came along everything would be fine. I remember my parents taking me to these new open-air theaters in Germany where Germans have Western towns and an Indian village with tepees and they can ride horses and shoot at each other and play out those Karl May stories.
Near the conclusion of My Winnetou (2003), Stefka Ammon’s video documenting her speculative quest for the fictional Mescalaro Apache created by German novelist Karl May, she describes a projection that she makes upon the landscape. In her voice-over, Ammon explains how she has just bid farewell to Oliver, a contemporary Mescalaro that she has been visiting as part of her search. They have ridden horses, watched the film Geronimo, and discussed her quixotic project in detail. Oliver becomes an unwitting foil to the romantic figure of Winnetou, whom Ammon introduces in a vivid fantasy sequence that opens her video. Oliver is an upstanding family man, respected by his community, but hardly the mythic hero, or “blood brother” Ammon was anticipating. Disillusioned, she decides to leave. As the desert landscape of White Sands, New Mexico rushes by on the screen, Ammon intones: “Today every mountain every hill looks as if an Apache has just ridden along it.”
My Winnetou – International title
A 2003 German documentary film
Director: Stefka Ammon
Story: Stefka Ammon’s
Story: explored the stereotype filled expectations Germans developed of Native peoples and cultures, based on the Karl May series of books.
Pierre Brice (Pierre Louis Baron de Bris), Lex Barker (Alexander Barker Jr.)