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The Blood Countess and the the Beginnings of the Feminist Movement

  • Jun 16, 2011
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+4

4.0 out of 5 stars The Blood Countess and the Beginnings of the Feminist MovementJune 16, 2011
By 
Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
 
This review is from: Countess (DVD)
Writer/director/producer/musical scorer/actress Julie Delpy brings to the screen a character from history that few know. The film is based on the true history of the woman known as The Blood Countess, but after viewing this film it is obvious that the actual figure on whom the story is based was a brilliant political mind, a woman of noble breeding who could read and write in four languages, who once widowed was able to successfully defend her lands from the warring Turks and exact control over the reigning Hungarian King Matthias. But back to the history of the character as written by Delpy. 'Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian) (1560 - 1614) was a countess from the renowned Báthory family of Hungarian nobility. She is considered the most prolific female serial killer in history and possibly the most prolific of any gender. She and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls, with one witness attributing to them over 650 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. Erzsébet herself was neither tried nor convicted. In 1610, however, she was imprisoned in the Csejte Castle, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death four years later. Later writings about the case have led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins in order to retain her youth.' 

The film opens with voice over by István Thurzó (Daniel Brühl) who relates the story of his only love. We are privy to the strange behaviors of the young Erzsébet who had a sadistic streak and was at birth promised to be the bride of Ferenc Nádasdy (Charly Hübner). She became a beautiful woman and Erzsébet (Julie Delpy) married General Nádasdy, gave birth to children, and together they were the power couple of Hungary. When Nádasdy dies, Erzsébet meets and falls passionately in love with István Thurzó (Daniel Brühl), a many 19 years her junior, but Istvan's father György Thurzó (William Hurt) prevents Istvan from remaining with Erzsébet. Left alone Erzsébet remains a powerful warrior, dallies with the sadomasochistic Dominic Vizakna (Sebastian Blomberg), but fears her young lover will forget her if she ages. She discovers that the blood from virgins will restore her youth and thus begins the serial killings to support her vanity. As questions of debts owed to her by the King there is an investigation of her personal history led by György Thurzó and without proper trial she is condemned to house arrest in darkened sealed rooms in her own Csejte Castle where her fate is sealed. 

The film is beautifully designed, costumed, photographed and scored, and Delpy manages to pace her story credibly and well. For this viewer there is an absence of gritty passion that would make the history more indelible: Delpy and the remainder of the cast fail to create fiery on-screen chemistry that would have brought a sense of stronger impetus to the heinous acts that occur. But as a piece of rarely known history it is a fascinating film about a strong woman of the past and the impact she had on her country ... and on legends! Grady Harp, June 11
Writer/director/producer/musical scorer/actress Julie Delpy brings to the screen a character from history that few know. The film is based on the true history of the woman known as The Blood Countess, but after viewing this film it is obvious that the actual figure on whom the story is based was a brilliant political mind, a woman of noble breeding who could read and write in four languages, who once widowed was able to successfully defend her lands from the warring Turks and exact control over the reigning Hungarian King Matthias. But back to the history of the character as written by Delpy. 'Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian) (1560 - 1614) was a countess from the renowned Báthory family of Hungarian nobility. She is considered the most prolific female serial killer in history and possibly the most prolific of any gender. She and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls, with one witness attributing to them over 650 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. Erzsébet herself was neither tried nor convicted. In 1610, however, she was imprisoned in the Csejte Castle, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death four years later. Later writings about the case have led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins in order to retain her youth.'
 
The film opens with voice over by István Thurzó (Daniel Brühl) who relates the story of his only love. We are privy to the strange behaviors of the young Erzsébet who had a sadistic streak and was at birth promised to be the bride of Ferenc Nádasdy (Charly Hübner). She became a beautiful woman and Erzsébet (Julie Delpy) married General Nádasdy, gave birth to children, and together they were the power couple of Hungary. When Nádasdy dies, Erzsébet meets and falls passionately in love with István Thurzó (Daniel Brühl), a many 19 years her junior, but Istvan's father György Thurzó (William Hurt) prevents Istvan from remaining with Erzsébet. Left alone Erzsébet remains a powerful warrior, dallies with the sadomasochistic Dominic Vizakna (Sebastian Blomberg), but fears her young lover will forget her if she ages. She discovers that the blood from virgins will restore her youth and thus begins the serial killings to support her vanity. As questions of debts owed to her by the King there is an investigation of her personal history led by György Thurzó and without proper trial she is condemned to house arrest in darkened sealed rooms in her own Csejte Castle where her fate is sealed.
 
The film is beautifully designed, costumed, photographed and scored, and Delpy manages to pace her story credibly and well. For this viewer there is an absence of gritty passion that would make the history more indelible: Delpy and the remainder of the cast fail to create fiery on-screen chemistry that would have brought a sense of stronger impetus to the heinous acts that occur. But as a piece of rarely known history it is a fascinating film about a strong woman of the past and the impact she had on her country ... and on legends! 

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More The Countess reviews
review by . December 31, 2010
   This film deals with a very difficult problem: it attempts to create the image of a bloodthirsty countess and at the same time it tries to cast doubt on it.      The Countess throws you into a world where almost everything that seems real may be false, but the film does not want you to find out what the truth is.      Let me illustrate this problem by a metaphor:   Imagine finding a way through a labyrinth made of paper so fine you cannot …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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