Báthory (film)

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Báthory
Directed by Juraj Jakubisko
Produced by Deana Horváthová
Mike Downey
Thom Mount
Zorana Piggott
Kevan Van Thompson
Written by John Paul Chapple
Juraj Jakubisko
Starring Anna Friel
Karel Roden
Hans Matheson
Vincent Regan
Franco Nero
Deana Horváthová
Music by Simon Boswell
Cinematography Ján Duris
Edited by Chris Blunden
Production
  company
Eurofilm Studio
Distributed by Tatrafilm (Slovakia)
Bontonfilm (Czech Republic)
Budapest Film (Hungary)
Screen Media Films (US)
Release date(s)
  • 10 July 2008 (2008-07-10)
Running time 140 minutes[1]
Country Slovakia
Czech Republic
Hungary
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget 10 million
Box office $3,436,763[2]

Báthory (also released as Báthory: Countess of Blood) is a 2008 fantasy film written and directed by Juraj Jakubisko. Filming began in December 2005, and the film was released in July 2008. It was Jakubisko's first English-language film and an international co-production between the cinemas of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

Plot[edit]

The film is based on the story of Erzsebet Bathory, a 16th–17th century Hungarian countess. Her story takes place in a part of the Kingdom of Hungary that is now Slovakia. In this retelling, the Countess is a healer who conducts medical experiments and rudimentary autopsies in a "hospital" beneath her castle. She forms a relationship with a reputed witch, Darvulia, who saves her from poisoning. The witch promises Erzsebet a son and eternal beauty. In return, Erzsebet must sacrifice both love and her reputation. Darvulia becomes Erzsebet's companion. Meanwhile, maidens in the area have been dying of seemingly unrelated causes, and Erzsebet is seen bathing in a large tub of red liquid as the girls' now-mutilated corpses are buried nearby. Two monks later conclude that the water is not blood but is simply colored red by herbs.

After her husband's death, Erzsebet quarrels with his scheming friend Juraj Thurzo, who tries to proposition her at her husband's funeral. Thurzo's lover, who is gifted with herbs, offers to help him get revenge for the rejection. Soon afterward, Erzsebet begins to have surreal visions and episodes. In one of these, she stabs a woman to death with scissors. Afterwards, she confesses to Darvulia that she can no longer tell dream from reality. Darvulia discovers that someone has been placing hallucinogenic mushrooms in Erzsebet's drinks; Erzsebet cannot remember clearly and believes Darvulia responsible. She has the woman thrown out. Thurzo and his wife then capture Darvulia and torture her, cutting out her tongue. Before she dies, she writes Thurzo's name in blood on her cell wall. Erzsebet swears vengeance on him.

Thurzo enlists Erzsebet's sons-in-law and other allies to prosecute her for witchcraft. When their plans repeatedly fail, they nonetheless capture the Countess and torture members of her household to try to obtain incriminating information. The servants are then executed for their alleged crimes, and Erzsebet is imprisoned. Despairing over her separation from her son, she lies on her bed and begins to sing a hymn; the flames from her candles rise and engulf her in flames. Upon hearing of her death, Thurzo concedes that she has once again made the move he least expected, as when they once played chess together, and admits that he has always loved her.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Juraj Jakubisko declared in an interview:

"I decided to make this film because Countess Elizabeth Bathory is the most famous Austro-Hungarian aristocrat that lived in what is Slovakia today. She is so well known that she is also included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most prolific mass murderer. She supposedly murdered 650 people during her lifetime. The film is essentially a mix of genres. What is interesting about this story is that it doesn't even lack humour and it is also a kind of crime story as there are two monks investigating what is actually going on with Bathory. But there is also political intrigue, and the drama of an intelligent woman too weak to face all the odds she had to face… It is the story of a woman, Elizabeth Bathory, who, in short, was unfortunate to have been born at the wrong time in history…"[3]

Casting[edit]

In late January 2006, Famke Janssen was announced to play Bathory, and her photos with Jakubisko showed up in the media. Her first appearance was planned for 6 March 2006. Meanwhile other sequences (those not involving her) were being shot. Around 8 March 2006, news agencies reported that Janssen had been replaced by the English actress Anna Friel.

Financing and production companies[edit]

The budget of 10 million EUR (around 15 million USD) makes it the most expensive Slovak and Czech film ever. The film is a joint effort of Slovak, Czech, British, and Hungarian production companies:
Jakubisko Film Slovakia s.r.o. (SK), Eurofilm Studio KFT (HU), Jakubisko Film, s.r.o. (CZ), Lunar Films Ltd (UK) and Concorde Film Trust (HU), with additional government funding provided by Eurimages (EU),[4] the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic (SK), Státní fond ČR pro podporu a rozvoj české kinematografie (CZ)

Release[edit]

  • Slovakia: 10 July 2008
  • Czech Republic: 10 July 2008
  • Hungary: 20 January 2010

References[edit]

External links[edit]