The Countess (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Julie Delpy|
|Produced by||Andro Steinborn
Matthew E. Chausse
|Written by||Julie Delpy|
|Music by||Julie Delpy|
|Edited by||Andrew Bird|
X Filme International
Social Capital Films
The Steel Company
Tempête Sous un Crâne
X-Filme Creative Pool
The film is the third directorial effort by Delpy, who has said of the project that "it sounds like a gothic [story] but it's more a drama. It's more focusing on the psychology of human beings when they're given power".
In 1560, Erzsébet Báthory is born to Hungarian general George Báthory of Ecsed. From an early age, Erzsébet's parents raise her to accept hardness and cruelty. As a teenager, Erzsébet is impregnated by a young peasant lover and is forced to watch as he is brutally tortured and executed before her eyes; Erzsébet's mother takes the child away from her directly after its birth, ensuring that she never sees it again. Erzsébet is later married to the Hungarian baron Franz Nádasdy, with whom she has three children. After Nádasdy's return from the Ottoman-Hungarian Wars, he succumbs to a disease he contracted abroad and dies.
Erzsébet, now the sole heir of her husband's estate, seeks recognition from the Hungarian Habsburg, King Matthias II. Matthias consents reluctantly due to his considerable debt to the Countess. At a ball, she meets Count György Thurzó's son, István, and falls in love with him. After a night together, István is forced by his father to end the relationship and marry the daughter of a wealthy merchant in Denmark. Erzsébet believes that age difference is to blame for the failure of the relationship. After an incident in which she is splashed with blood after striking a female servant, Erzsébet starts to believe that bathing in the blood of virgin girls can help her to reach eternal youth and beauty. To this end, her staff capture and brutally kill peasant girls to obtain their blood.
It is only when Erzsébet starts to kidnap aristocratic girls that the authorities begin an investigation. Count Thurzó is asked to investigate the incidents and he thus sends István, now a count himself, to visit Erzsébet. István is reluctant to believe the allegations and is seduced once more by the countess. Only when he and one of his companions discover evidence of her crime do they arrest her. During the trial, Erzsébet is found guilty and, due to her noble origin, she is sentenced to spend the rest of her life walled into her room in Čachtice Castle in total isolation. Erzsébet's staff is also found guilty, but unlike her they are put to death. All of her estate is awarded to the Count Thurzó with the exception of Čachtice, which is given to her children.
Driven by desperation after being walled in, Erzsébet Báthory commits suicide. She is then buried without a coffin in a humble grave, with no funeral ceremony. The film casts doubt on the sentence, suggesting that much of the happenings have been manipulated by Count Thurzó.
- Julie Delpy as Countess Erzsébet Báthory
- William Hurt as György Thurzó
- Daniel Brühl as István Thurzó
- Adriana Altaras as Aunt Klara Báthory
- Charly Hübner as Ferenc Nadasdy
- Anamaria Marinca as the witch Anna Darvulia
- Sebastian Blomberg as Dominic Vizakna
- Andy Gatjen as Miklos
- Rolf Kanies as Count Krajevo
- Jesse Inman as King Matthias
- Jeanette Hain as Anna Báthory
- Frederick Lau as Janos
- Henriette Confurius as Kayla