(2008) Anna Friel, Karel Roden, Hans Matheson, Vincent Regan, Deana Jakubiskova, Bolek Polivka and Antony Byrne
The film is absolutely beautiful, with gorgeous costumes, stunning locations and the statuesque Anna Friel in the lead role. It’s a rather long film, clocking in at 2h15, and unfortunately, you start to feel that time about an hour and a half in. Up until that laggy point, the film is excellent, a wonderful historical biopic, but it looses it’s steam during the second act, before picking up again for the last 15 minutes. A shame, really. The story is told from a slightly different historical standpoint, as if Erzsebet Bathory weren’t the blood hungry Countess history claims she is, but the victim of the government and other nobles trying to gain her lands (she owned more land than the King, about 1/3rd of the country). It’s really hard to tell, with these larger than life villains, how much is real, and how much was propaganda. The same could be said for Vlad the Impaler. He was a vicious warlord, and he did indeed impale people, but more and more evidence is unearthed that shows that he was no more vicious than the next warlord of those times, and what he did, he did to protect his country. There is no record in her own words (nor Vlad’s) about what happened, and the stories inevitably warp and change over the centuries. Was Erzsebet Bathory the most prolific serial killer of (almost) all time? Or just another victim? Impossible to know for sure, but we’re certainly drawn to her story.
The film is not currently on Netflix, nor is it on YouTube (not in english, anyways), but there is another film about Bathory’s life called The Countess, with Julie Delpy, and that one is streaming. It’s also pretty good, though this one claims that she was indeed a villain, not a victim. Both are worth tracking down.