Obituary: Romania's 'Clint Eastwood', director Sergiu Nicolaescu

Article published on Jan. 4, 2013
Article published on Jan. 4, 2013

Let's say that Sergiu Nicolaescu, who died on 3 January, was the Romanian Charlton Heston or Clint Eastwood - albeit a leftist director. He mystified history and encouraged nationalism, being as he was a favourite of the former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife. 'A famed mysogynist, Nicolaescu said that women were useful only for reproduction - his third wife was 46 years younger than he was,' remembers Georgiana Ilie, a journalist based in Bucharest. 'After the revolution in 1989, he was always well connected. He won all the state funding for his over 60 movies, whereas really good modern directors such as Cristian Mungiu and Cornelieu Porumboiu couldn't.' This fact makes Nicolaescu's death more poignant; considering the tough austerity strikes in Romanian cultural affairs, Sergiu becomes a passing symbol for what was once unrestrained. 'In recent years the octogenarian made atrocious inter-war dramas such as Orient Express (2004), though he is most famous for his 1970 film Mihai Viteazu ('Michael the Brave'),' explains Ilie; the trailer is featured here. 'He was dubbed 'the survivor' after his eponymous 2008 movie. Sergiu played the main character in most of his features, such as the communist vigilante Comisarul Moldovan, the goodie to the capitalist police baddies. Incredibly, in 2009, when Traian Basescu won his second term as president, the first thing he said was a paraphrased quote from Sergiu's police inspector movie: ‘It's nothing, I just filled them with bullets!' (Un fleac, m-au ciuruit)'