Ostern

The Ostern (Eastern) or Red Western was the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain countries' take on the Western movie.

It generally took two forms:

  1. Proper Red Westerns, set in America's 'Wild West', such as Czechoslovakia's Lemonade Joe (Limonadovy Joe, 1964), or the East-German The Sons of the Great Mother Bear (Die Söhne der großen Bärin, 1966) or The Oil, the Baby and the Transylvanians (Pruncul, Petrolul Si Ardelenii, Romania, 1981) involving radically different themes and genres. These were much more common in Eastern Europe, rather than the USSR itself.
  2. Easterns (Osterns), which took place usually on the steppes or Asian parts of the USSR, especially during the Russian Revolution or following Civil War. Examples of these include The Burning Miles (Ognennie Versti/Огненные вёрсты, 1957), The Bodyguard (Telokhranitel/Телохранитель, 1979), At Home among Strangers (1971), and famous Soviet film White Sun of the Desert (Beloye Solntse Pustynt/Белое солнце пустыни', 1970). While some of these are obviously influenced by Westerns, in some cases, the material can be seen as a parallel formation.

Naturally many of these contained political messages, but they can still be watched impartially as action films, comedies etc, and it is certainly true to say that American director John Ford imbued his films with controversial political messages too.

'Red Westerns' in an international context

'Red Westerns' of the first type are often compared to 'Spaghetti Westerns' (although technically these are 'Paella Westerns' being shot in Spain, rather than Italy), in that they use local scenery to double up for the American West. In particular, Yugoslavia, Mongolia and the Southern USSR were used.

'Red Westerns' provide a counterpoint to familiar mythologies and conventions of the original genre, particularly as the makers were on the other side of a propaganda war without parallel, the Cold War, and this is partially why many have never been shown in the west, at least not until after the Cold War ended. In a war in which many fabrications were made on both sides, there was often a lingering fascination with the cultural developments in enemy countries.

Westerns have proven particularly transferrable in the way that they create a mythology out of relatively recent history, a malleable idea that translates well to different cultures. In Russia, the Ostern uses the generic calling cards of the American Western to dramatise the civil war in Central Asia in the 1920s and 30s, in which the Red Army fought to maintain their country against Islamic Turkic 'Basmachi' rebels. By substituting, 'red' for 'blue' and 'Turk' for Mexican, there are the same opportunities for a sweeping drama played out against a backdrop of wide-open spaces. The Ural Mountains can be equivalent to Monument Valley, the Volga river for the Rio Grande. Add the gun slinging ethos, horse riding, working the land, pioneers of a sort (ideological often in this case!), the bounty hunter traversing difficult terrain with outlaw in tow, railroading and taming the wild frontier and you have a generic mirror image of the American genre.

Red Westerns which use the actual American west as a setting include, the Romanian The Oil, the Baby and the Transylvanians (Pruncul, Petrolul Si Ardelenii, 1981) which dramatises the struggles of Romanian and Hungarian settlers in a new land. The Czech Lemonade Joe and the Soviet A Man from the Boulevard des Capuchines plump for pastiche or satire, making fun of the hard worn conventions of the American films. The German The Sons of the Great Mother Bear (Die Söhne der großen Bärin, 1966) turned the traditional American "Cowboy and Indian" conventions on their head, casting the Native Americans as the heroes and the American Army as the villains, with some obvious Cold War overtones... it started a series of "Indian films" by the East German DEFA studios which were quite successful.

Interestingly, many of the non-Soviet examples of the genre were international co-productions akin to the Spaghetti Westerns. The Sons of the Great Mother Bear for example was a co-production between East Germany and Czechoslovakia, starring a Yugoslav, scripted in German, and shot in a number of different Eastern Bloc countries and used a variety of locations including Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Mongolia and Czechoslovakia. The Oil, the Baby and the Transylvanians was a Romanian film, but featured emigrant Hungarians heavily in the storyline.


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The Oil, the Baby and the Transylvanians was a Romanian film, but featured emigrant Hungarians heavily in the storyline. For example, "football and swimming are my favourite sports" would sound natural to all English speakers, whereas "I enjoy sport" would sound less natural than "I enjoy sports" to many North Americans. The Sons of the Great Mother Bear for example was a co-production between East Germany and Czechoslovakia, starring a Yugoslav, scripted in German, and shot in a number of different Eastern Bloc countries and used a variety of locations including Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Mongolia and Czechoslovakia. In all English dialects, "sports" is the term used for more than one specific sport. Interestingly, many of the non-Soviet examples of the genre were international co-productions akin to the Spaghetti Westerns. In American English, "sports" is more common for this usage. it started a series of "Indian films" by the East German DEFA studios which were quite successful. In Commonwealth English, sporting activities are commonly denoted by the collective noun "sport".

The German The Sons of the Great Mother Bear (Die Söhne der großen Bärin, 1966) turned the traditional American "Cowboy and Indian" conventions on their head, casting the Native Americans as the heroes and the American Army as the villains, with some obvious Cold War overtones.. The closeness of art and sport in these times was revealed by the nature of the Olympic Games which, as we have seen, were celebrations of both sporting and artistic achievements, poetry, sculpture and architecture. The Czech Lemonade Joe and the Soviet A Man from the Boulevard des Capuchines plump for pastiche or satire, making fun of the hard worn conventions of the American films. The modern term 'art' as skill, is related to this ancient Greek term 'arete'. Red Westerns which use the actual American west as a setting include, the Romanian The Oil, the Baby and the Transylvanians (Pruncul, Petrolul Si Ardelenii, 1981) which dramatises the struggles of Romanian and Hungarian settlers in a new land. Art and sport were probably more clearly linked at the time of Ancient Greece, when gymnastics and calisthenics invoked admiration and aesthetic appreciation for the physical build, prowess and 'arete' displayed by participants. Add the gun slinging ethos, horse riding, working the land, pioneers of a sort (ideological often in this case!), the bounty hunter traversing difficult terrain with outlaw in tow, railroading and taming the wild frontier and you have a generic mirror image of the American genre. It impresses us because of the ability, skill, and style which is shown.

The Ural Mountains can be equivalent to Monument Valley, the Volga river for the Rio Grande. In the same way, a sporting performance such as jumping doesn't just impress us as being an effective way to avoid obstacles or to get across streams. By substituting, 'red' for 'blue' and 'Turk' for Mexican, there are the same opportunities for a sweeping drama played out against a backdrop of wide-open spaces. So an aesthetically pleasing car is one which doesn't just get from A to B, but which impresses us with its grace, poise, and charisma. In Russia, the Ostern uses the generic calling cards of the American Western to dramatise the civil war in Central Asia in the 1920s and 30s, in which the Red Army fought to maintain their country against Islamic Turkic 'Basmachi' rebels. This is similar to a common view of aesthetic value, which is seen as something over and above the strictly functional value coming from an object's normal use. Westerns have proven particularly transferrable in the way that they create a mythology out of relatively recent history, a malleable idea that translates well to different cultures. The definition of "sport" above put forward the idea of an activity pursued not just for the usual purposes, for example, running not simply to get places, but running for its own sake, running as well as we can.

In a war in which many fabrications were made on both sides, there was often a lingering fascination with the cultural developments in enemy countries. The fact that art is so close to sport in some situations is probably related to the nature of sport. 'Red Westerns' provide a counterpoint to familiar mythologies and conventions of the original genre, particularly as the makers were on the other side of a propaganda war without parallel, the Cold War, and this is partially why many have never been shown in the west, at least not until after the Cold War ended. Similarly, there are other activities that have elements of sport and art in their execution, such as performance art, artistic gymnastics, Bodybuilding, Parkour, Yoga, dressage, etc. In particular, Yugoslavia, Mongolia and the Southern USSR were used. Ice skating and Tai chi, for example, are sports that come close to artistic spectacles in themselves: to watch these activities comes close to the experience of spectating at a ballet. 'Red Westerns' of the first type are often compared to 'Spaghetti Westerns' (although technically these are 'Paella Westerns' being shot in Spain, rather than Italy), in that they use local scenery to double up for the American West. Sport has many affinities with art.

Naturally many of these contained political messages, but they can still be watched impartially as action films, comedies etc, and it is certainly true to say that American director John Ford imbued his films with controversial political messages too. See also: List of countries by national sport. It generally took two forms:. These trends are seen by some as contrary to the fundamental ethos of sport being carried on for its own sake, for the enjoyment of its participants. The Ostern (Eastern) or Red Western was the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain countries' take on the Western movie. Nationalism in general is often evident in the pursuit of sport, or in its reporting: people compete in national teams, or commentators and audiences can adopt a partisan view. Examples of these include The Burning Miles (Ognennie Versti/Огненные вёрсты, 1957), The Bodyguard (Telokhranitel/Телохранитель, 1979), At Home among Strangers (1971), and famous Soviet film White Sun of the Desert (Beloye Solntse Pustynt/Белое солнце пустыни', 1970). While some of these are obviously influenced by Westerns, in some cases, the material can be seen as a parallel formation. Until recently, under Rule 21, the GAA also banned members of the British security forces and members of the RUC, now reconstituted as the PSNI, from playing Gaelic games, but the advent of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 led to the eventual removal of the ban.

Easterns (Osterns), which took place usually on the steppes or Asian parts of the USSR, especially during the Russian Revolution or following Civil War. Until recently the GAA continued to ban the playing of soccer and Rugby union at Gaelic venues under the controversial Rule 42, although Gaelic games are frequently played on soccer and rugby arenas, particularly outside of Ireland. These were much more common in Eastern Europe, rather than the USSR itself. Even until the mid 20th century a person could have been banned from playing Gaelic football, hurling, or other sports administered by the GAA if s/he played or supported Football, or other games seen to be of British origin. Proper Red Westerns, set in America's 'Wild West', such as Czechoslovakia's Lemonade Joe (Limonadovy Joe, 1964), or the East-German The Sons of the Great Mother Bear (Die Söhne der großen Bärin, 1966) or The Oil, the Baby and the Transylvanians (Pruncul, Petrolul Si Ardelenii, Romania, 1981) involving radically different themes and genres. In the history of Ireland, Gaelic sports were connected with cultural nationalism. The 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin was an illustration, perhaps best recognised in retrospect, where an ideology was developing which used the event to strengthen its spread through propaganda.

Some feel this was an effective contribution to the eventual demolition of the policy of apartheid, others feel that it may have prolonged and reinforced its worst effects. When apartheid was the official policy in South Africa, many sportspeople adopted the conscientious approach that they should not appear in competitive sports there. There have been many dilemmas for sports where a difficult political context is in place. This has led to the control of each sport through a regulatory body to define what methods of competition are acceptable and what are considered cheating.

The successful execution of a sport requires the consensus agreement of the participants on a set of rules for fair competition. Today the consensus is that David Beckham (England and Real Madrid Footballer) is the most famous sportsman in the world, with a fanatical following particularly in Asia where statues have been erected of his likeness. The entertainment aspect also means that sportsmen and women are often elevated to celebrity status, or in some cases near-god-like. This has resulted in some conflict, where the paycheck can be seen as more important than recreational aspects: or where the sport is changed simply to make it more profitable and popular therefore losing some of the traditions valued by some.

The entertainment aspect of sport, together with the spread of mass media and increased leisure time, has led to professionalism in sport. Athletes, coaches, fans, and parents sometimes unleash violent behaviour on people or property, in misguided shows of loyalty, dominance, anger, or celebration. Violence in sports involves crossing the line between fair competition and intentional aggressive violence. Compare Sportsmanship with Gamesmanship.

Reciprocally, the other team is expected to return the ball from the throw-in. For example, in football it is considered sportsmanlike to kick the ball out of play to allow treatment for an injured player on the other side. Not only is it important to have good sportsmanship if one wins, but also if one loses. Sportsmanship, within any given game, is how each competitor acts before, during, and after the competition.

Indeed, the formal regulation of sport is a relatively modern and increasing development. Some of these activities have been popular but uncodified pursuits in various forms for different lengths of time. In this way sports evolve from leisure activity to more formal sports: relatively recent newcomers are BMX cycling, snowboarding, wrestling, etc. People responsible for leisure activities often seek recognition and respectability as sports by joining sports federations such as the IOC, or by forming their own regulatory body.

But often the pressures of competition (See the related article, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." or an obsession with individual achievement - as well as the intrusion of technology - can all work against enjoyment and fair play by participants. is not winning but taking part” are typical expressions of this sentiment. The well-known sentiment by sports journalist Grantland Rice, that it's “not that you won or lost but how you played the game," and the Modern Olympic creed expressed by its founder Pierre de Coubertin: "The most important thing . Sportsmanship expresses an aspiration or ethos that the activity will be enjoyed for its own sake.

However, it often emerges that skills are honed to increase racing performance and achievements in competition, rather than the converse. For example, beginners in sailing are often told that dinghy racing is a good means to sharpen the learner's sailing skills. It is interesting that the motivation for sport is often an elusive element. Sportsmanship is defined as "conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants, including a sense of fair play, courtesy toward teammates and opponents, a striving spirit, and grace in losing.".

The examples given are intended to be illustrative, rather than comprehensive. One system for classifying sports is as follows, based more on the sport's aim than on the actual mechanics. Main article: List of sports. Not only has professionalism helped increase the popularity of sports, but additionally the need to have fun and take a break from a hectic workday or to relieve unwanted stress, as with any profession.

Professionalism became prevalent, further adding to the increase in sport's popularity. These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication. The Industrial Revolution and mass production brought increased leisure which allowed increases in spectator sports, less elitism in sports, and greater accessibility. Activities necessary for food and survival became regulated activities done for pleasure or competition on an increasing scale, for example hunting, fishing, horticulture.

Sport has been increasingly organised and regulated from the time of the Ancient Olympics up to the present century. The Olympic Games were held every four years in Ancient Greece, at a small village in Pelopponisos called Olympia. This suggests that the military culture of Greece was an influence on the development of its sports and vice versa. Wrestling, running, boxing, javelin, discus throwing, and chariot racing were prevalent.

A wide range of sports were already established at the time of the Ancient Greece. Among other sports which originate in Persia are polo and jousting. Ancient Persian sports such as the traditional Iranian martial art of Zourkhaneh had a close connection to the warfare skills. Other sports included javelin throwing, high jump, and wrestling.

Monuments to the Pharaohs indicate that a range of sports were well developed and regulated several thousands of years ago, including swimming and fishing. Gymnastics appears to have been a popular sport in China's past. There are artifacts and structures which suggest that Chinese people engaged in activities which meet our definition of sport as early as 4000 BC. Although there is scant direct evidence of sport from these sources, it is reasonable to extrapolate that there was some activity at these times resembling sport.

Some of these sources date from over 30,000 years ago, as established by carbon dating. There are many modern discoveries in France, Africa, and Australia of cave art (see, for example, Lascaux) from prehistory which provide evidence of ritual ceremonial behaviour. The development of sport throughout history teaches us a great deal about social changes, and about the nature of sport itself. Main article: History of sport.

. The difference of purpose is what characterises sport, combined with the notion of individual (or team) skill or prowess. A sport has physical activity, side by side competition, self-motivation and a scoring system. A sport consists of a physical and mentally competitive activity carried out with a recreational purpose for competition, for self-enjoyment, to attain excellence, for the development of a skill, or some combination of these.

The Meaning of Sports by Michael Mandel (PublicAffairs, ISBN 1-58648-252-1). Golf. Paintball. Curling.

Biathlon. Strength (Weight-lifting, triple jump, shot put ...). Display (Gymnastics, bodybuilding, equestrianism, diving...). Target (Archery, shooting, darts ...).

Other examples include: Rugby, ice hockey, field hockey, softball, basketball, American Football...). Team (cricket, Baseball and football (soccer) are the most popular globally, with baseball being popular in the Americas and in Japan, cricket in the Commonwealth of Nations and football being popular throughout the world. Court (Tennis, shuttlecock sport, badminton, volleyball, squash, Table tennis...). Combat (Wrestling, Judo, karate, boxing, fencing, tae kwon do...).

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