“How did you go, my Lord Tepes?” A “tormented” character in the Romanian film, “a coward, who gets scared and runs away” but played uniquely by Ștefan Sileanu

Vlad Tepes is one of the most famous and appreciated Romanian voivodes of all times. In fact, he is arguably by far the best known internationally, and this is thanks to writer Bram Stoker, who saw fit to equate him with the vampire Dracula.

Obviously, since then, the country’s marketers have tried, as best they could, to take advantage of the Irish writer’s publicity, metamorphosing Bran Castle into a more or less obsolete and/or commercial tourist attraction.

Actor Ștefan Sileanu, as Vlad Țepeș- 1979

The film Vlad the Impaler, harshly criticized at the time

However, before the “commercialization” of Bran Castle, there were Romanian films that placed the emphasis partly on history, partly on artistic reinterpretation, as each saw fit. They, the films, created Vlad Țepeș, the film character who was fiercely contested by some critics.

“If anyone had intended to parody this scenario, by emptying it of content and crowding it with illogic, I doubt they would have succeeded any better. It is strange that a man, who claims to be a professional, should avoid having even a single discussion with the writer of the film he is about to make, or with his collaborators on the film crew, as to how he wishes to make the film.

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It is downright disqualifying for the same professional when he pushes his lack of responsibility so far as to film without the respective actors, filling the frame with whoever happens to be there, as in the “hostage” sequence, or without the necessary props, as in the “yardarm” sequence, an operation that turned the meaning of the respective sequences 180 degrees upside down. This has resulted in a serious ideological error.

Vlad Țepeș appears as a coward, who is frightened and runs away from the Turks, his whole programme turning into a sinister farce”, wrote Mircea Mohor in a memo addressed to Film House No. 5 on 3 May 1978, according to Adevărul.

This memo referred to the 1979 film Vlad Țepeș, which, according to many opinions of the time, was made chaotically, without any organization, marked by a war of egos between screenwriter Mircea Mohor and director Doru Năstase.

Actor Ștefan Sileanu, as Vlad Țepeș – 1979

Ștefan Sileanu, the actor who will always be remembered for his portrayal of Vlad Țepeș

In the memory of true cinephiles, Ștefan Sileanu will remain immortal for ,,Vlad Țepeș” (1979), directed by Doru Năstase, and this despite the controversies surrounding the film itself. Sileanu played his role absolutely flawlessly, and this detail cannot be overruled by anyone or anything.

“I played this role for a couple of years, so it was somewhat close to me. In 1977, it was a century since the War of Independence. A television series was being made about those events.

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I was filming somewhere in Dobrogea, I was on a beautiful horse, I had a black beard. Doru Năstase said to me: “Hey, Ștefane, why don’t we try something crazy?! But you have to take off your beard”. He explained to me that it was a rehearsal for the film “Vlad Țepeș”, the film he was preparing”, said the actor, in an interview for Jurnal spiritual, conducted by Loreta Popa.

However, Ștefan Sileanu has also acted in many other films by directors Mircea Veroiu, Alexa Visarion, Iulian Mihu, Manole Marcus or even Nae Caranfil.

Among the best known are:

  • Songs of the Sea (1971)
  • Through the Ashes of Empire (1976)
  • The Three Sealed Bush (1977)
  • War of Independence (TV series, 1977)
  • Vlad Tepes (1979)
  • Stop frame at the table (1980)
  • I Was Sixteen (1980)
  • Burebista (1980)
  • Bag of Dragonflies (1981)
  • Sword Swallower (1982)
  • A Crew for Singapore (1982)
  • I want to know why I have wings (1984)
  • The Rally (1984)
  • Adela (1985)
  • Family Sunday (1988)
  • Chirița in Iași (1988)
  • The Great Defiance (1990)
  • Red Rats (1991)
  • The Rose and the Crown (TV drama, 1991)
  • E pericoloso sporgersi (1993)
  • Look forward with anger (1993)
  • The Stone Cross (1994)
  • Sleep of the Island (1994)
  • The Old Court Cranes (1996)
  • Letters of the Friend (1997)
  • The Pacho Returns (2006)

Ștefan Sileanu died on March 28, 2020, at the age of 80, following a heart attack.

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