The journeys of Prince of Wied


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The last witness of Native American civilization was a Prince from Prussia.

A feat that not even Alexander von Humboldt had achieved was accomplished by the Prussian Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied: in 1815, he ventured on an expedition along the Eastern coast of Brasil. He was the first to describe one of the most biodiverse jungles of the world – his German-speaking readers were fascinated. His extensive collection of flora and fauna includes so many species that it has not been fully evaluated as yet, even today. His detailed report of his journey in Brasil leads to his recognition as a distinguished expert among natural scientists.

In 1832, at the age of fifty, he does it again: An expedition into the interior regions of North America. He is accompanied by Swiss painter Karl Bodmer. Their encounters with Native American tribes are documented in Bodmer’s paintings, which have shaped our understanding and idea of these indigenous peoples. Innumerable literary fantasies of the Wild West were modeled on Wied’s descriptions, including those of Karl May. Even prior to the invention of the Wild West, Wied recorded Native American civilization as he experienced it through personal encounters – in lively, detailed descriptions with uniquely valuable illustrations.

Watch the film in german in the ZDF Mediathek.


ZDF 2017
Length:: 43 minutes
Written and directed by: Philipp Grieß, Eike Schmitz
Camera: Philipp Grieß
Editor: Mathieu Honoré
Music: Brynmor Jones
Sound design & mix: Sebastian Reuter
Production assistants: Luenia Guedes, Franziska Hoffmann, Massimiliano Salino,
Tabea Wächtler
Costume design USA: Cathy Smith
Casting USA: Terry Fredericks
Advisers: Peter Bolz, Fritz Geller-Grimm, Matthias Glaubrecht, Dakota Goodhouse,
Michael Kern, Michael Noll
Narrator: Gert Heidenreich
Commissioning editor: Bernhard von Dadelsen

Prince of Wied was both a researcher and a man of the world. His interests were encyclopedic, anything he encountered was met with curiosity. Thanks to this unique individual we have at least a vague understanding of a world that has long ceded to exist.

This is a docudrama about one of the most significant and influential explorers of the 19th century, Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, a Prussian prince who was the last witness of the high culture of the indigenous Americans.

Jonas von Lingen, Wigand Witting
Loris Rizzo, Stephan Grossmann
Guarani Tribe, Three Affiliated Tribes
Tobias Sorge, Massimiliano Salino
Marty Young Bear, Keith Bear, etc.