Monday, 30 November 2009

"Time has no respect for beauty"

Being 38 and worried about wrinkles and age setting in is hardly uncommon, but in the case of Erzebet Bathory it becomes an obsession when she finds out that her skin looks and feels smoother when touched by virgin blood.

The Bathory character has become immensely popular in works of fiction, turning up in e.g. the 'official sequel' to Dracula that I recently mentioned. She also serves as inspiration for a novel that also fictionalizes von Schertz's Magia Posthuma: Blood Legacy by Prudence Foster which I wrote about on another blog.

Bathory also turns up in regular vampire movies as well as in more regular historical dramas. I have yet to find a copy of the Czech Bathory (2008), but the German-French The Countess (2009) starring Julie Delpy was recently released on DVD here in Denmark. Curiously, the first nearly 40 years of Bathory's life are told in the opening minutes, so the movie focuses on her years as a widow, falling in love with a young man and becoming obsessed with using blood to retain her looks, before finally being punished.

Although there are some pretty unpleasant scenes, The Countess never turns into out and out horror. It even attempts to be somewhat ambigous as to how much of the charges against Bathory were based in reality or in a plot to gain her wealth and power. So it is definitely very much unlike e.g. the Hammer Horror of Countess Dracula, but perhaps not quite as entertaining :-)

In general it touches on many of the themes of the strange mixture of fact and fiction about Bathory that has made her a household name in books on horror and mass murder, but in my opinion it does not really attempt to answer any of the questions. Still, it is interesting to see a more 'realistic' and relatively sympathetic portrayal of Bathory that at least appears to be closer to history than e.g. Hammer's effort.

5 comments:

Mary Lindsey said...

Such an interesting subject. There is also a YA from Dutton called BLOOD CONFESSION based on the story. I wasn't wholly convinced it belonged in the children's section of the library, but it was well done.

Nicolas Barbano said...

According to IMDb, the 2008 "Bathory" is a Slovakian / Czech / British / Hungarian co-production. It stars Anna Friel, a British actress of some notability (she was Golden Globe-nominated for the TV-series "Pushing Daisies" and has starred in several feature films). Strange and sad that it has apparently not been made available on DVD.

Niels K. Petersen said...

Bathory is available on DVD, but I think it's only available in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.It can occasionally be found for sale on ebay.

Anonymous said...

I also just found it here on ebay for you. http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/BATHORY-COUNTESS-BLOOD-ANNA-FRIEL-NEW-SEALED-DVD-/220917535129?pt=AU_Movies_Movies_TV_Shows&hash=item336fb61199#ht_520wt_698

Niels K. Petersen said...

It's been available on English and German DVD for some time now.

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