You may know the story of Vlad the Impaler. Born in 1431, the boy would grow up to become ruler of Wallachia, a territory in what is now Romania. He would go on to become known as Vlad the Impaler because of his (mostly alleged) brutality while in charge of the Ottoman Turks. It is said that he impaled around 20,000 people himself, either as a lesson to others or as an act of mercy, depending on who you ask. His cruelty earned him the nickname ‘The Impaler’.

The story of Vlad’s life and deeds is fascinating, and it is easy to see why film director Brett Ratner chose to make a movie about the infamous ruler. The latest addition to the cinematic universe is Vlad The Impaler, which stars Robert Pattinson (one of our favourite contemporary actors) as Vlad. The film is set for release on 28 April 2016, so you can start seeing glimpses of the terrifying Dracula in the near future.

Why Is Vlad The Impaler Worth Watching?

First off, let’s talk about the setting. Set in the 15th century, Vlad The Impaler takes place in a time when the Turks were, quite literally, the rulers of the world. The Ottoman Turks had established themselves in Istanbul, which is now Turkey, across the Bosphorus from mainland Europe. The city was the centre of the Islamic world, and it was governed by the sultan himself, with military might and an iron fist. This was also the time of the Renaissance, and the arts were flourishing, particularly in Italy. As one of the premier locations for a period piece, it is easy to see why Budapest and Transylvania have been chosen as shooting locations.

The movie also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, the veteran British actress, who plays the powerful Lady Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. The two have previously worked together on screen in The Life of Henry VIII, and it is interesting to see them rekindle their professional bond on the big screen. While their characters are quite different, Anne and Scott Thomas share a love of words, which makes for a fascinating study in female friendship. The two women are joined by Jamie Lee Curtis as their friend Margaret Boleyn, who is the sister of Lady Anne. While Lady Anne has found love with the king, it appears that Margaret has not been so lucky, and she remains a strong and vibrant female character, a rarity in Shakespearean cinema.

The Most Famous Impalers

Before we get into Vlad’s story, let’s establish some context. As we’ve established, Vlad The Impaler is based on the historical figure of Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler. He is most famous for his brutality, and it is said that he impaled around 20,000 people himself. He was supposedly born in 1431 and would go on to rule over a territory spanning across Eastern Europe. There are many conflicting claims about the number of people impaled by Vlad, with some sources putting the figure as high as 40,000. However, this is a rather tall tale, as it was mostly made up to promote the film. The truth is that Vlad is probably responsible for the impalement of no more than a few hundred people. Nevertheless, even this small amount of brutality would make him one of the most famous impalers of all time.

What Is Robert Pattinson’s Take On The Character?

The movie’s main focus is on Vlad’s relationship with his friend and advisor, the Hungarian knight turned statesman, George Kovalecskyszegi. Played by the legendary Orson Welles, George is an interesting character because of his versatility. He is both military and intellectual, and these are two very different roles for Welles. He often plays the ‘great man’ in history, or a famous figure from literature, and this is a role that he expertly inhabits here. We particularly like how Welles presents this character, how he captures both his wisdom and his wit. It is easy to see why Welles was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this performance.

In terms of casting, Robert Pattinson is known for being very selective about the roles he takes on. As someone who has gained massive popularity thanks to Twilight and its many cinematic offshoots, it is no surprise that Pattinson has chosen to take on a character that is as close to his heart as it is to the audience’s. Having played Edward Cullen in both The Twilight Saga and its upcoming sequel Eclipse (formerly titled New Moon), it is safe to assume that Pattinson has some emotional investment in Vlad The Impaler. As we’ve established, the actor has an abiding love for all things English, and especially for Shakespeare. It is no coincidence that Vlad is essentially based on the noble Richard III, who famously declared “What’s a crown? I think it’s pretty rad.”

Is It Really Based On Richard III ?

Yes, it is. However, the story of Richard III is one of the most well-known in English history, and there are certainly enough similarities for this to be a veritable ‘origin story’. Both men were born in 1431, and both faced opposition from within their own houses. Richard was the second son of the Duke of Gloucester, while Vlad III was the son of Vlad II, who was murdered in 1444, and his wife, Anna. Like Richard, Vlad III was opposed by his own brother, Mircea, who tried to have him murdered and succeeded in having him imprisoned for a time. The only significant difference between Richard and Vlad III is that the latter, while extremely ruthless, was more successful in his quest for power and was responsible for the impalement of fewer than 500 people.

Summing It Up

Overall, we’d have to say that Vlad The Impaler is a character-driven drama, quite entertaining if you’re a fan of history or if you simply enjoy watching actors play characters and explore nuanced philosophical debates. We can’t wait to see what comes next. As Brett Ratner said about the making of Vlad The Impaler, “The best is yet to come.”