Everyone has heard of Romanian actor Vlad Rădescu. Despite the fact that you already know who he is, the artist needing no introduction, you certainly didn’t know a single detail about him, which is essential to his later artistic development.
It seems that Vlad Rădescu conquered the hearts of Romanians and Chinese alike, and the film that made this possible is Ciprian Porumbescu, called, in the first instance, Balada.
“Ballad” that made the Chinese “feel Romanian”
Obviously, if you lived your childhood, adolescence or youth in communism, you can’t have missed, at the time, the biographical film Ciprian Porumbescu, directed by Gheorghe Vitanidis. As we said before, the film was originally called Balada, and it turned Vlad Rădescu, then a young student actor, into a big star, both here and in Asia, it seems.
In 1971, Nicolae Ceașescu was visiting China, led by Mao Zedung. Coincidentally or not, that was the moment when Romanian films started to run in this country.
In fact, Romanian films have been extremely popular in China since the 1970s, and the film that has touched the inhabitants of this country’s “sensitive chord” was Ciprian Porumbescu himself.
In an article entitled “I am soulfully linked to Romania”, Professor Zhao Weijian, from the Central Conservatory of China, reported how everyone fell in love with Ciprian Porumbescu’s Ballade in those years, which turned Vlad Rădescu into a real star even in China.
“It was considered the Romanian version of “Liangzhu” (“In Love with a Butterfly”). When I was in Romania, the Art School, where I studied, was named after Ciprian Porumbescu. He is considered a remarkable musician. He composed the music for the famous patriotic song “On our flag is written Unire”, as well as the music for the melody of Romania’s former anthem, “Three Colours”. In China, the Musicians’ Association has introduced ‘Ballade’ to the seventh level exam for violinists,” writes Zhao Weijian in the article.
“The next day, meetings, again endless dinners, again nostalgia with “Ciprian Porumbescu”…It seems all of China has seen it! I try to convince them that Romania has made films since the 70s, some of them very good. I tell them: “Of course, for a culture as old as yours, 30 years is only 3 minutes!”, and they are happy. But Ciprian Porumbescu seems to have struck a chord with the Chinese collective soul, and it is impossible to get him out of their heads”, wrote Leo Șerban, in his turn, in the article “China cu Ciprian”, published in Dilema Veche, in 2004.
Neagu Rădescu was not worthy to be on the poster
When “luck ran out on him”, Vlad Rădescu was a first-year student at the Institute of Theatre and Film Arts. He tried out and passed. His talent and the actor’s looks would turn him into Porumbescu.
“Neagu Rădescu doesn’t work on the poster, believe me,” said Gheorghe Vitanidis, director of Ciprian Porumbescu, at the time.
Real name Neagu Oltea Vlad Rădescu, the actor was ryced to shorten his stage name and drop his first name, as it sounded much better Vlad. And indeed, Vitanidis was quite right.
Later, about the film that made him famous, Rădescu said “The film was shown at the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, at the end of Mao’s era. Apparently it was the first film in which the main heroes, two lovers, did not say slogans, but held hands and kissed. The music was beautiful too, so it got them! I regret that I didn’t get to China, even though I grew up right next to the Chinese embassy in Bucharest. But I remember meeting some Chinese people in the lift of the “Forum” hotel in Costinești. When they saw me, they were about to block the lift between floors, because they didn’t know which button to press!”
The film based on Ciprian Porumbescu’s biography was released in our country in 1973, and later made waves even in China, despite the huge cultural differences between the two countries.