GDR, 1971, 108 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Music (Performance)
Production Company
Themes & Genres:


Florida, 1830. Of all eastern Indigenous nations, only the Seminoles have resisted being moved to reservations. Having retreated to Florida, they live a rich horticultural life, while white plantation owners, angry at the increasing numbers of Black slaves fleeing to Seminole protection, want to take their land. Plantation owner Raynes, in particular, has convinced the US military to wipe out the Seminoles. His rival Moore, a sawmill owner from the North who has a Seminole wife, is against slavery on moral grounds and considers it unprofitable. Seminole leader Osceola sees the coming danger and despite his efforts, he cannot prevent the war that breaks out in 1835.


Since the 1960s, the East German DEFA Studio for Feature Films adapted the Western film genre for socialism, while also attempting a gesture of solidarity with the Indigenous nations of North America. Films such as this one, include the representation of unacceptable practices, cultural appropriation, as well as racist and stereotypical depictions, characterization, language and imagery. The DEFA Film Library’s English-subtitled version makes efforts to address racist language and honor authorship. In the subtitles, terms for Black, Native American and Indigenous peoples that have always been derogatory in English and German are indicated as [n-word] or [i-word].


The film is also available for a Digital Site License for educational partners. Please find more information here.



2023 Retrospective Hidden Figures: Blackness and Black Experiences in East Germany, Amherst, USA
1996 Retrospective Wild East Goes West, Seattle, USA

Press comments

“The shocking history of actions by the United States against Native Americans and Blacks was a source of great delight to East Germany’s leaders. Here was a country that boasted about its freedom and opportunities yet continued to shut out anyone who skin tone drifted too far from Pantone 473. With Osceola, DEFA managed to kill two birds with one stone, combining an [Native American] uprising with a slave revolt. The story takes place in Florida and represents the first time a DEFA [Western] film chronicled the life of a real person, an approach they would follow over the next three [Western]. Osceola was a joint effort by DEFA, Bulgaria’s Kino-Zentrum, and Cuba’s Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industrias Cinematográficos (ICAIC).”   —Jim Morton, eastgermancinema.com



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