- Directed, written, music byJulie Delpy
- Produced by Andro Steinborn, Christopher Tuffin, Julie Delpy, Matthew E. Chausse
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."
Erzsébet Bathory was born in 1560 in Nyírbátor as the daughter of the Hungarian general George Báthory of Ecsed. Early on she was brought up, mainly by her mother, to accept hardness and cruelty. For example, she had to watch the torture and execution of her young peasant lover and father of her child when she becomes pregnant. Erzebet's mother takes the child from her directly after birth, never letting her get near the child.
As a teenager she marries the Hungarian baron Franz Nádasdy, with whom she had three children. After her husband's return from a campaign against the Ottomans, where he became ill, he succumbs to the consequences of the disease and dies. Elizabeth is now the sole heir of the property and is looking for recognition in the Hungarian Habsburg King Matthias II, who consents reluctantly, because of the considerable debt he has to the Countess after the Turkish wars.
At a ball she meets the son of Count György Thurzó, István Thurzó, and falls in love with him. After a night together, he is forced by his father to end the relationship and marry the daughter of a wealthy merchant in Denmark. Erzsébet now believes that the age difference is to blame for the failure of the relationship. After a small accident where one of her servants gets hurt, Erzebet starts to believe that the blood of virgin girls can help her to reach eternal youth and beauty. To this end, her staff capture poor girls whom they kill brutally with an apparatus in order to get as much blood as possible. Only when she starts to kidnap aristocratic girls, the rumours reach the crown. Count György Thurzó is asked to investigate the incidents and he thus sends his son, Count István Thurzó, to Erzsébet.
István does not want to believe the allegations and succumbs once more to the countess. Only when he and one of his companions discovers evidence of her crime he can arrest the Countess. During the trial Erzsébet is found guilty and due to her noble origin she is convicted to spend the rest of her life walled into her room in castle Čachtice, in total isolation. Her staff is also found guilty and executed. All her property were awarded to the Count Thurzó, with the exception of Čachtice that is given to her children.
Driven by desperation Erzsébet Báthory kills herself, after being walled in, and is then buried without a coffin and funeral ceremony in a humble grave.
One is led to doubt the sentence, and it remains unsure how much of the happenings that has been manipulated by Istvans father.