Follow TV Tropes


Film / Vlad Tepes

Go To

Vlad Țepeș is a 1979 Romanian Epic Film and Biopic of Vlad the Impaler.

It begins with Vlad's coronation to the throne of Wallachia. Unfortunately, he could not have ascended at a worse time. The boyar nobility class is full of corruption and self-servingness, which has left the country in shambles due to their greed. Worse, the Ottoman Empire is on a path of conquest, has just sacked Constantinople and is coming for Wallachia. Only Vlad's iron will to do whatever needs to be done can bring Wallachia to glory.

Compare with The Great Warrior Skanderbeg which is another production made under the same time period about an contemporary figure to Vlad that also fought the Ottomans.

This film contains examples of:

  • All Crimes Are Equal: When Vlad takes Wallachia, he orders all prisoners released for a clean slate, but declares that any future crimes will be met with beheading. He later declares that all criminals will be impaled, considered in his culture to be the punishment for the lowest criminals, to show that All Are Equal in Death when he kills them.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Every boyar in the film is portrayed as a corrupt schemer out for his own power above all else. Vlad's first order of business upon being crowned voivode is to bring them to heel. He eventually is forced to purge a significant chunk, but the rest are cowed.
  • Avenging the Villain: The sons of the boyars Vlad impaled join the Ottomans against their nemesis.
  • Big Bad: Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire, who is on a path of conquest and has just reached Wallachia.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Vlad is absolutely ruthless and willing to kill anybody he needs to for his own sense of justice, but he's up against murderous bandits, corrupt nobles and conquering imperialists.
  • Cain and Abel: Mehmed sends his hostage, Vlad's brother Radu, to lead the Ottoman armies against him.
  • Child Soldiers: Mehmed II makes extensive use of them, if his demand of 500 children a year for his armies is any indication.
  • The Conqueror: Mehmed II starts the film having just taken Constantinople for the Ottomans, and plans to take all of Europe, starting with Wallachia.
  • Corrupt Church: When Vlad is doing his purge of the local bandit population, several of them try to invoke church sanctuary to escape the blade. Vlad simply berates the priest until he gives them up.
  • The Coup: A bunch of boyars try to assassinate Vlad while he prays at night, but he planted a decoy to catch them in the act and has them impaled.
  • Dig Your Own Grave: Vlad forces one rebelling noble to dig his own grave as a humiliation tactic, since nobles aren't supposed to do menial labour.
  • Divided We Fall: One of Vlad's biggest obstacles in stopping the Ottoman invasion is the fact that Wallachia has been in an extended period of civil war between various nobles.
  • Downer Ending: Vlad is framed for treason against Hungary and imprisoned for three years. According to an ending scroll, he's released and manages to take back Wallachia's throne, but is killed two months later.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • When Vlad executes a fellow noble, he always makes it a point that his enemy will be buried with full honors.
    • As Mehmed marches to invade Wallachia, he and his army stop to pray before the impaled bodies of some prior Ottoman invaders.
  • The Empire: The main antagonists are the Ottoman Empire, who are trying to conquer Wallachia.
  • The Hero Dies: According to the ending scroll, Vlad is killed two months after taking his throne back.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Vlad sees his brutal punishments as a necessity to keep order on Wallachia.
  • Karma Houdini: Mehmed II and Radu the Fair both succeed in their schemes to depose Vlad. However, according to the historical record, both are eventually killed while pursuing other ambitions.
  • Make an Example of Them: Vlad firmly believes that slaughtering criminals will show anybody considering a life of crime that it's not worth the painful death.
  • Malicious Slander: The more lurid historical accounts of Vlad's cruelty, such as him feasting amongst a forest of impaled bodies, are depicted as lies spread by his boyar enemies to weaken his political power.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Mehmed II's final goal is the destruction of Christianity itself.
  • Precursor Hero: The Ottomans were defeated prior to their invasion of Wallachia by Iancu of Hunedora, who died soon after, giving them the chance to restart their path of conquest.
  • Protagonist Title
  • The Purge: Vlad's first major goal as voivode is to destroy the local bandit population. He's eventually forced to purge a bunch of boyars because they were corrupt and tried to assassinate him.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: In the beginning of the film, Vlad is battling a rival lord, when one of his soldiers stabs the guy In the Back. Vlad has him executed despite planning to kill the guy himself, precisely because he swore an oath of fealty Vlad didn't.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Vlad Tepes, a warlord who intends to save his homeland from invaders, but is willing to behead and impale anybody he has to to do it. He has some remorse, but sees his brutality as a necessity.