Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Karl May chronicles the life of the extremely popular 19th-century German novelist who lived from 1842 to 1912. Karl May's copious output included dozens of adventure novels set in the American Wild West; they are distinguished by their sympathetic portrayal of Native Americans, and many feature the beloved Native American character Winnetou. May was among the most popular novelists ever to have written in the German language, and the idyllic simplicity of the rustic life portrayed in his works is thought to have inspired the early Nazis, who would probably have horrified May. In the last 12 years of his life, he was involved in a series of lawsuits to clear his name from a number of libelous assaults. These charges came after he had achieved prominence as a cultural figure and his prior conviction and imprisonment for petty theft was discovered. The movie catches up with him in the midst of his fight against these slanders. This film is the second in director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg's German Trilogy, consisting of Ludwig, Karl May and Hitler - Ein Film Aus Deutschland. In order to highlight the continuity between May's vision and the Hitler regime, all the actors in the film were either prominent during the Nazi era, or began their careers then.