Europe at the beginning of the 17th century. Countess Erzebet Bathory is considered to be the most powerful woman in the land – beautiful, intelligent, and unwilling to accept the right of men to change the rules of this world as they please. At a party she meets a much younger man, Istvan. The two fall passionately in love with each other. But their happiness is short-lived: Istvan’s father, Count Thurzo, forces his son to stop seeing Erzebet and begins to unfold a conspiratorial plan. His plot works: suspecting that she has been rebuffed on account of the considerable age difference and, driven by desire and disappointment, Erzebet succumbs to the bizarre idea that the blood of young female virgins will give her eternal youth and beauty. As a result, more and more young women are brought to her castle. Erzebet’s delusional behaviour goes from bad to worse. Finally – much too late – she realises that she is the victim of a political power struggle and conspiracy led by her lover’s father … The real Erzebet Bathory was born into an influential aristocratic family. She was married off at an early age to a Hungarian count with whom she had five children. Her wealth and her family’s influence gave rise to doubts in the 1980s about the trial of 1610, during which her servants were tortured and forced to testify that their mistress was responsible for the death of over 150 girls. Three of her servants were sentenced and burnt at the stake; Erzebet herself was incarcerated in a castle until her death in 1614. During the 19th century her story was retold in many works of literature.
by Julie Delpy
with Julie Delpy, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl
Germany / France 2008