The Countess (film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Countess is a 2009 film about Elizabeth Báthory. It is the third directorial effort by Julie Delpy, who also stars as Bathory. Delpy 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."


Elizabeth is born to the powerful Báthory family, and is married off to Count Nádasdy, a fearsome warlord. Her vast fortune and his military prowess make the couple extremely powerful, to the extent that they become the King's financiers. Shortly after her husband's death, Elizabeth, now envied and coveted for her wealth and power, is propositioned by Count Thurzó. She rejects him coldly, but is entranced by the Count's young son, István. Their love affair is frustrated by the Count, who forces his son to marry wealthily in Denmark, and intercepts all correspondence between the two lovers. Increasingly lonely, desperate, deranged, and thinking that her age is at fault, Elizabeth resorts to using the blood of virgins as a cosmetic. To this goal she is aided by her maids, and a masochist aristocrat of Transylvanian descent, who enjoys being flogged by Elizabeth. More maids are bled and murdered as Elizabeth's want of supposed rejuvenation by their blood increases. Troubled by reports of corpses found in the woods, the village priest writes to King Matthias, but the message is intercepted. Still rumors are rife, and the king orders an investigation. Count Thurzó sends István to Elizabeth's castle, having convinced him that she now is a witch and a murderess. Although their old love is rekindled, István finds evidence of her practices. A trial is held, and her servants are put to death. She is spared but sentenced to life imprisonment. In exchange for a verdict of insanity, Elizabeth bequeaths her estates to Count Thurzó, and relieves the King of his financial obligations to her. She is walled inside her bedroom and finally kills herself. István remains doubtful as to the extent of her true guilt.


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