Michael the Brave (1970) Poster

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9/10
A larger than life epic movie
alexdiaconu15 August 2002
The historical facts:

Mihai Viteazul was a Romanian ruler that reigned in the small principality of Wallachia between 1593 and 1601. In 1600 he bedazzled Europe by uniting Wallachia with Romanian-speaking Moldavia and Transylvania, for which he is hailed as Romania's national hero. It all sounds ferry tale-ish, but it isn't. Mihai was too ahead of his time. He had the guts to go to war with three empires (Turkish, Austrian and Polish) and found his death when he trusted one of them. But his accomplishment forged a landmark in Romanian history.

The movie:

First, it's the battle scenes. They don't come bigger than these and nobody can't take that away from Nicolaescu. He is THE master! Back then, when a movie of such girth was made in Romania, everybody got into it, from the head of state to the Army, so sky was the limit.

I think the grandest scene of the movie is the one depicting the Turkish army in the marshes of Calugareni on August 13 1595. On that day, the all-mighty Ottoman Empire, in its heyday at that time, poured 120,000 soldiers into Wallachia to conquer it. Imagine filming that! Nicoleascu shot from a helicopter. It started from the back, with the scattered extras forming the rear guard and gradually progressing towards the front. The scale is huge and mind you, he actually used that amount of people, not the CGI tricks of "Gladiator". Just think of the props and coordinating those guys on a hot day of summer in the middle of a swamp.

On the other side, as in every portrayal of a legendary figure, the hero hasn't the least of flaws: he is always brave (actually Mihai Viteazul means Michael the Brave), honest, nothing gets by him, always gives a moralizing speech before the battle yada yada. Man, didn't guys like Mihai or William Wallace ever had the slightest trace of egocentrism ? In that respect, there is another movie about Mihai Viteazul, called Buzduganul Cu Trei Peceti (The Mace With Three Seals), in which the hero actually has feelings, flaws and fears. Of course, it's directed by someone else.

At times, the acting is childish, especially in face-offs, like badly rehearsed lines of a play. When it involves a third party, e.g. a soldier telling Mihai that one of his subordinates has just arrived, I can't help myself laughing at the poor timing of the actors. Oh, and it's always the same thing with Romanian scripts: no matter whether the character is a farmer or the Austrian Emperor, he always uses the same old precious and dusty lingo, something like saying "It gives me great pleasure to gaze upon your look" instead of plain "Oh I'm so happy to see you".

All in all, I think 'Mihai Viteazul' is a good movie by most standards. It's the Romanian movie most seen outside its borders and a must-see within.
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10/10
Recently seen, so very fresh in my mind
Delikatu'11 December 2000
It was a great idea that HBO Romania had to broadcast "Mihai Viteazul" on the Romania's National Day, that is the 1st of December. "Mihai Viteazul" successfully combines battle scenes and political intrigues and to show as realistic as possible the life and times of the great Romanian ruler. I'm not going to describe the film itself, it has to be seen by your own eyes to get the right image about a significant part of the Romanian film industry. Instead, I am going to speak a little about the director's visions about making this movie.

Right after HBO's playing the film on 1st December 2000, a Romanian broadcasting network invited director Sergiu Nicolaescu to make a comment on his masterpiece. Everybody must know this was the second motion picture made by Sergiu Nicolaescu for the silver screen. First, the film was meant to be a co-production with the USA, thus Nicolaescu managed to cast Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Wells and other great actors at Hollywood. However, the Ministry of Culture under President Nicolae Ceausescu did not admit an American involvement in a production based on the glorious history of the Romanian people. So, director Nicolaescu and writer Titus Popovici had to renounce to the American partnership and made this film on their own, financed by the Romanian government. A small dispute started between Nicolaescu and Popovici regarding the actor to play the main character, Mihai Viteazul. A number of 128 Romanian actors were tested for this role and the probes were sent in America, so that some American producers to choose which one is the appropriate actor for the character. The result was Sergiu Nicolaescu and that was exactly what Titus Popovici had in mind. So they started shooting with Nicolaescu playing Mihai Viteazul. But, after a while, Sergiu Nicolaescu was not pleased with the role, he actually wanted to play Selim-Pasa and went to the Ministry saying he's not going to direct that movie anymore, unless he is allowed to do it in his manner. He got the approval, except, of course, any American involvement in it. He returned on the director's chair, but with Amza Pellea playing the main character. I have to admit he was right, because Amza Pellea was outstanding and Nicolaescu's "Selim-Pasa" was a better part, I think.

All the battle scenes were filmed by only three cameras, without zoom effects (the Romanian film industry wasn't working with such equipments in the seventies), so all camera movements were created by physicals efforts.

Battle scenes were filmed with the Army's support, for which the director thanks during the main titles.

Historical facts are precise, that is Nicolaescu's guarantee. More than anything else, Sergiu Nicolaescu loves history, the Romanian history, and all important moments and dialogues in his historical movies are covered by documents from those periods.

Nicolaescu says he was surprised to notice a TV sequence in Steven Spielberg's "E.T." showing images from his film "Mihai Viteazul". That's why he asked, when he had the opportunity, Steven Spielberg why he enclosed a sequence from his movie and not from another director's. And Spielberg replied he admired Nicolaescu's work, especially the battle scenes, which also inspired him for some of his future films.
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The best historical Romanian movie to date
Beebenders5 June 2000
Amza Pellea is Mihai Viteazul! Very seldom that you see an actor transforming itself so completely to bring a strong historical character to life. I can only feel bad for the rest of the world for not being able to see this movie. Sergiu Nicolaescu, the movie director proves that he belongs with the best of the historical genre. Time will prove me right, somebody, someday, will bring this diamond in the rough to a full shine. It is disturbing to see the people in charge of promoting Romania's cultural image can't seem to know how to promote some of it's best assets.
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Brilliant landmark in film hisory.
Chickamauga19 July 2002
I like this movie because I´m a history buff and secondly my ancestors come from Transylvania. The characters in this movie are brilliant- Amza Pellea even matches the original Michael Petrascu. The only bad thing in the movie: the guns (Russian Mosin Nagant-Rifles) are not accurate. But!!! The are turned with new stocks and barrel bands into fine, ancient muskets. The marching scenes with thousands of Turcs and Romanians are excellent! Shame is, the movie is not very often seen on TV or at a blockbuster.
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10/10
A film for history hero lovers
FlowerOS4 September 2002
Anyone who like hero movies will love this one. And that's not the only thing. Sergiu Nicolaescu made this movie as the first in the world (as far as I know) with battle scene that looks real enough to get you on your toes. And that doesn't mean lot of blood but the way that the camera follows the action, big action of the troops and instant local action of "mano a mano" fight.
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9/10
Can be interesting history for small people in the world?
Ioan29 February 2000
The question in title is maybe a critical question when commenting on a historical movie. The director especially, sometimes wants to "tell" too much of his peoples history and the movie began too quickly. But I think this movie succeeded to mantain this frail equilibrium between historical information and artistic part.

Of course, comparing with Braveheart this movie isn't so realistic in images, has no such violence, but very real, battles, but it was filmed 27 years before and of course with some censorship involved. But it still is one of the great Romanian movies ever realised. The major critique, in my humble opinion, is a great king is a man too, and this aspect wasn't explored enough in this movie.

Maybe the myth was more important than the reality? But the performances were simply excellent and this critique can be minimised.
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10/10
Wonderful battle scenes
Icy Seven18 July 2005
Best battle scenes until Lords of the Rings (in '70 there were no computers to add special effects so the battles look even more natural than today movies. The story is close to what really happened (historians from Romanian Academy were consultants for this movie). Good to see if you know a little about European/Ottoman history or if you like huge war scenes. As I know for this movie Sergiu Nicolaescu (the director) - present in the movie also as Selim Pasa character - had the entire support of the Romanian army - provided by the former Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. tens of thousands of people were used as utility actors and Nicolaescu also applied some new film directing techniques in this movie.
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A great film with great Romanians actors
mirciulikka28 March 2004
I remember I was a schoolboy when I saw it for the first time in my life and I still got that feeling ever time I have seen it again.The music theme still rings in my ears and that figure of King Michael walking towards the camera with that background starring the cherry flower of spring and that blue sky...It's a great movie with true great Romanians actors of all times.Every Romanian who sees that movie is identifying himself with the idea of independence,freedom (that is this movie is about)and with blood who Romanian people spellt in any era from 1 a.d towards nowaddays to keep the country FREE from foreign foes! It's such a pitty it didn't succeeded in winning the Oscar in that year,although it was nominated.It is , as I recollect, the only Romanian movie ,nominated for Academy Award EVER...
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Mihai Viteazul
dracones4 March 2005
Mihai Viteazul is probably the greatest romanian movie ever. 1.A lot of Hollywood stars were supposed to act in this movie. But Ceausescu sayed now and it was a good thing because Amza Pelea acted at his highest skills. Just as he did in the role of Decebal an ancient romanian king (Dacii and Columna movie). 2.It had a few Oscar nominations. 3.It is a model for the stunt work. It has been studied before shooting other great historical movies such as Troy. In Romania after the Troy premiere there was a wide spread joke: "Yeah Troy is a great movie but there's something missing: Sergiu Nicolaescu, Amza Pelea, etc" :) Of course part nationalism but part truth.
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10/10
Simply the best Romanian film
ekisest17 July 2006
Yeah, that's it! The best Romanian film ever. Sounds stately, I know, but nobody has topped this film yet. Sergiu himself said that this is "the most IMPORTANT Romanian film", because it serves in a beautiful way the main cause of our people over the centuries - the unification of the 3 ancient Romanian-speaking countries: Transylvania, Moldavia and Tara Romaneasca. This epic that could easily enter the league of such blockbusters as "Braveheart" or "Kingdom of Heaven", depicts the final years of the XVI century, when Mihai Viteazul achieved the longed unification that, unfortunately, lasted less than a year. In fact, I'm talking about the second part of "Mihai Viteazu", here. Everything said is applied to the first part, as well. It's useless to glorify this film in a short comment - you have to watch it and make your own impressions. If you are not Romanian, you won't feel the same as we, all the Romanian movie goers did, but anyway, you can enjoy a truly good piece of historical cinema.

NOTIFICATIONS : the central figure is incarnated by Amza Pellea, a monumental actor at his best. Stay focused on Mihai's mother, approaching the final scene of the film, portrayed by Olga Tudorache in a brief, but wonderful screen appearance.
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10/10
The story of a great hero....a piece of history.
Octavian Albu26 October 2005
Most probably the best Romanian film ever. It reproduces the exact history of one the Romaian Country leader and great hero, that managed to unite for the first time in Romanian history the hole Romanian people, in the early 17th century. The movie is made by the famous Romanian film director Sergiu Nicolaescu in 1970. The movie has it all: political scene, great betrayals, family drama an above all great battle scene at huge scale. The film brings to the screen famous Romanian actor like: Sergiu Nicolaescu, Florin Piersic, Amza Pelea and others. Even if the film is made in the 1970 it is one of a kind and it worth seen. Enjoy
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10/10
The Last Crusade
catalinarmeanu12 September 2002
This is the top of the line in the romanian film industry, filmed in harsh conditions under the comunist authority by best romanian director Mr. Sergiu Nicolaescu. The movie is unique in the way it presents the political and military situations in the medieval Balkan's of 1600 and also is a very acurate story regarding the historical true about the last real crusader: Michael the Brave - King of all Romania. With no doubt we can put "Mihai Viteazu" side by side with "Braveheart" or any other great movie although many people are not so close to romanian history than scottish history but after a closer look when you see this motion picture you will find out that is far more active and colored than any other in this part of the world. At last but not the least you will notice the actor in the role of Michael the Brave - Amza Pellea, who is beyond any doubt the best romanian actor of the 21's century. Enjoy the movie!
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Michael the Brave (1971)
jtwcosmos1 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Jump, Selim."

This is the story of Romanian King Michael the Brave, the first ruler to unite Romania in 1600 A.D. The movie has good directing, great battle scenes, good actors and lavish costumes and sets. It could have been a really great movie, if not for the terrible music and the wooden and clunky dialogues.

Director Sergiu Nicolaescu tells the story well. The camera moves around, showing the action from (almost) all angles, and it really takes it's time. It also glides a lot. Starting from the very beginning, the camera flies alongside the characters, creating some really great moments. And while the technique is not new - one famous example would be Buster Keaton's "The General"- the effect is still stunning. True, the director tends to overuse it a little here and there, but it works most of the times.

The battle scenes are incredible. Thousands of soldiers and horses take part in what must be some of the biggest mock battles of all time. The extras literally fill the horizon as far as one can see, the costumes and the weapons are very well done, and there are a lot of pyrotechnics.

The actors are very good. Most - if not all - of the big names of Romanian Cinema have a part in this grand epic. Amza Pellea is good, even if a little wooden. The villains are particularly well done, and they seem to be the only ones who are allowed any flexibility. Ion Besoiu makes a memorable role, taking advantage of this freedom, and so does Nicolae Secareanu. Director Sergiu Nicolaescu also has a good role. There are many other actors, in parts big and small.

The film has a very high production value. The costumes and makeup are excellent, the sets are great, and the movie takes advantage of many of the Romanian and European landmarks.

The music is terrible. It is loud, it is monotonous and it is grating. And distracting. There are also some scenes when people break into song and the result is laughable.

The dialogues are also terrible. They are wooden and stiff and the language used is clunky and pretentious, but that is not entirely the film makers fault. The '70s were a difficult period for artistic expression in Romania, with heavy censorship - a bunch of low IQ morons who had to be appeased, often by adding annoying and less than subtle references to communist values and ideas. On a positive note, though, everybody speaks only one language, which makes it less distracting. Kinda like Star Trek.

Michael the Brave. A great historical epic, that could have been even greater. 8/10.
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8/10
Hussar ! Inainte !
Onur Aksaray4 May 2014
I have heard about this movie by chance while my search took me to the direction of local movies made on Ottoman conflicts in the Balkans and Central Europe.It was interesting to see the take on historical plots of this era from other views on screenplay.This movie,ticking over 3 hours,tells the adventurous campaigns of the Wallachian prince who aspires all his life to unite all the historical Romanian principalities under one flag struggling against his powerful enemies full of grit,greed and cruelty who would do anything to destroy each other to stay on top of another.The movie starts with Mihai traveling to Istanbul to pay his tribute to the Sultan by borrowing money from a rich Venetian Merchant through the reputation of a noble Countess who just from the beginning admires and loves him.Mihai's only goal is to get to the Wallachian throne through the approval from the Ottoman palace at once eliminating his sneaky rival Alexandru The Evil and set out his plans to free the lands from the desperate yoke of the authority which approves his vassal status as the prince. The Sultan and the Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha are taken by full surprise and grow suspicious from his bold courage at the Ottoman palace displayed against them,nevertheless approve him.From then on Mihai wages his own war,defying Sultan's Messenger Selim (who later on becomes Pasha).Now I want to open a bracket here,because the character who is depicted as Mihai's childhood friend and a Muslim convert actually is a fiction character casted by director Sergiu Nicolaescu and did not exist in reality.Mihai later goes on even further this time,waging a campaign against the Ottomans and advancing as far as Adrianople where he awaited the promised help from the Papal State in Rome,which in reality never came.Mihai later encounters one of the most allegedly treacherous characters according to the movie,and his so called ''Christian ally'' Szekely noble Transylvanian prince Sigismund Bathory.Bathory,a jealous,mean and selfish personality, pledges him help against Turks at the Battle of Calugareni but never really sends it,constantly trying to undermine and eliminate him instead, having him sign a humiliating treaty by taking advantage of his dedication to the Christian cause.The rivalries even flame more as Mihai's fame of bravery spreads across Christian Europe.Neither Austrian emperor Rudolph nor his general G.Basta really has him any sympathy and they never really support him.The story line of the movie mostly runs smooth although there are certain scenes doubtful of historical accuracy.The part where Sigismund abdicates from the throne after his defeat at Keresztes is historically true,however the scene where he disguises as monk to meet Mihai at the battlefield and Mihai having him watch the battle winning over his own cousin Andrew in Şelimbar as a captive is dubious.It is also true that Andrew was beheaded after the battle by his own subordinates,however Sigismund watching his cousin being executed probably never happened in real either.The scene where Selim tells Mihai: ''I used your tactics from Calugareni to defeat Sigismund at Keresztes.'' is apparently out of context however the movie is aimed at local spectators and certain praises in favor of the protagonist are noticeable.Sigismund also seems to be demonized far from what he actually is,totally a treacherous villain full of greed and intrigues.The story line of the movie never talks about the fact that Mihai joined forces with Sigismund to beat Turks following the Battle of Calugareni.There is apparently one-sided history telling on some parts of the script.Mihai's love story with the Countess and his disputes with his wife princess Stanca,his tragic loss of his son Nicolai at the battle field are also emotional moments.His son in reality though,did not die at that battle but much later.The movie has great colorful scenes such as the lance duel between Mihai and Sigismund on their first encounter,as well as the waltz in Sigismund's palace during his wedding ceremony with Maria Cristina de Graz.From the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul to the Neajlov swamps at the Calugareni battlefield,from the epic entrance of Mihai to the palace in Alba Iulia to the Prague Cathedral and the beautiful Charles bridge, the movie delivers fantastic scene depictions of the events that took place,taking us with Mihai throughout his journey full of struggles.Whether fully historically accurate or not,the movie has some fantastic depictions of battle scenes with rich costumes,giving a breathtaking realistic experience of the battles in chronological order.Finally great casting delivered by local actors notably Amza Pellea as Mihai,and the music in the movie is pretty decent as well.Some deviations and exaggerations on the plot,but let's not forget this movie was produced in 70's Romania and for the purpose of praising national pride as well to some point.Overall this movie was by far the best among the local productions in Balkans and C.Europe I have seen with similar historical plots and background.
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10/10
simply the best
nelutu23 May 1999
It's one of the best movies I've ever seen.I think that Sergiu Nicolaescu is the most important romanian directors because he presented the real Romanian history.I'm proud that I'm Romanian when I have the privilege to see a movie directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu
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epic
Armand16 April 2013
patriotic lesson and historical fresco. sign of a director art and powerful characters. it is not the best Romanian movie but it remains one of most provocative. exercise, not insignificant, to create a blockbuster. the large fight scenes are parts of precise care for details. the speeches are inspired and the science to give profound nuances to relations between characters is nice. image of a hero, it reflects the old need of legitimacy for a people at border of Europe. like in many situations, the past is a mixture of values and myth. a form of revenge against present. in this case, reflection of Communist Party desire to have roots in national history. important - the impressive fresco as a kind of calling card.
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10/10
The director of the movie died today, at 82 years
victorgusaceanu3 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A very good film, for that time when the Comunist Party control everything. All was great for we, when we are children and see a big movie "made in Romania", made with low budget and great army help... Along the years, many of the actors -the great Romanian artist- die or retired...

Romanians actors proved in MIHAI VITEAZUL that in every part of the world exist exceptional people, who could made great movies, but they have less money. And for final say that in this morning- 03.01.2013, the director of the movie, Sergiu Nicolaescu, died at age of 82, in a Bucharest hospital...
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superb
Kirpianuscus19 June 2016
it is, maybe, the best Romanian historical movie. and one of few who legitimate the career of Sergiu Nicolaescu as director. a convincing, powerful fresco of the reign of Mihai Viteazu, heroic, exploring nuances and details, perfect contact between high acting, costumes and battle scenes. the realism of events, the drama of the solitude of a great ruler of a small country, the triumph of a great political project, the beautiful scenes of doubt, love, sacrifice, and , sure, the music are pillars of a remarkable film. the image of Mihai Viteazu - tragic, noble, memorable is the result of a spectacular manner to define his role of Amza Pellea. Mihai remains his key role, maybe not the best but the role who reflects a fascinating gift and the hard work. a film like a huge puzzle in which each character, with his motivation and personal fight, defines an impressive fresco of glory, survive and sacrifice.
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