Chingachgook, the Great Snake

(Chingachgook, die Große Schlange)

GDR, 1967, 86 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Music (Score)
Production Company


French colonists and Hurons fight against English troops and their allies, the Delaware. Only Chingachgook, a young Delaware, and his fair-skinned friend Deerslayer realize that the colonizers intend to exterminate the Native Americans altogether.


Wahtawah, the daughter of the Delawarean chief, is kidnapped by the Huron tribe before her marriage to Chingachgook can take place. Together with his friend Deerslayer, Chingachgook sets out to free her from her captors. As they approach the Huron camp, hunter Harry Hurry, settler Tom Hutter and two scalp hunters cross their path. Chingachgook fails to free Wahtawah from the Huron and is taken captive himself.


Moreover, his attempt to convince the Huron that the war between the whites ought not concern the Indians proves to be futile. Indeed, only after the English have attacked and subsequently destroyed the Huron camp does the wounded Huron chief come to the painful realization that Chingachgook was right and declare peace with all Native American tribes.


This adaptation of The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper was filmed in Bulgaria and in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia.


1996 Shown at the "Wild East Goes West" East German "Indian Movie" Festival, Seattle, Washington

Press comments

"Many of the themes found in this film seem overly histrionic and poorly communicated - indeed, ideology often literally shoots out of every Indian's eyes. However, in contrast to many conventional Indian films, 'Chingachgook, The Great Snake' attempts to present a much more nuanced image of Indians as well as settler behavior - a welcome relief. Because the camerawork, with the exception of a few of the war scenes, abstains from cheap showmanship, an impression of objectivity is enhanced."
— K.U. in the Frankfurter Allgemeine, Frankfurt am Main, on Nov. 12, 1976


“Cold War on the High Plains! ... These films capture the look and feel of classic Hollywood Westerns with a novel twist courtesy of the Iron Curtain: the stories are told from the Native American perspective. Cowboys & Indians Magazine Westerns with a twist..”
Hollywood Reporter


“Ostensibly, Chingachgook is a film that one might align with both Cold War narratives and enlightening Socialist dramas.”

—Nick Hodgin, Directory of World Cinema, Germany 2


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DVD Bonus Features:
  • ​Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • On the Set: Dangerous Moments, Ralf Schenk interviews Gojko Mitic
  • Film Notes from the DEFA Film Library
  • Photo Gallery
  • Biographies

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