The Countess Movie Analysis
Julie Delpy directs and stars in The Countess. A movie storytelling the life of the seventeenth-century countess, Elizabeth Bathory; how her love for one man drove her to insanity. Unlike many typical vampire movies that show an actual vampire sucking out the blood of their victims, this movie takes somewhat of a detour from that path. The audience never sees the countess sucking blood from another person. To many, it is this simple point that makes them classify whether or not this movie is a true vampire film. They will tell you that if the Vampire is not sucking the blood then they are not a vampire, therefore their story is not one of vampire story. This movie is sure to change that thought as it is a true vampire film. It is due to emotion, seduction, the symbolism of blood and the power of daylight that makes not only this movie a vampire movie but it also made Elizabeth Bathory known as a vampire herself.
Throughout the beginning of the movie, the story of Bathory’s childhood is presented loud and clear. A young girl that was married off at 14, with a mother stricter than a ruler and girl who watched countless murders go down. A girl who grew up to be a woman of coldness and cruelty. A woman with bipolar emotions if you will. This ultimately gives her the power to not care about the many young girls she had murdered. Just like in the movie Let the right one in, when Eli attacks Ginia, there is no regretful emotion when she must go in for the bite. This is because to her Ginia isn’t anything but a food source to her.
The countess this pattern is repeated numerous times. The first scene in which this happens is in the middle of the movie. Bathory tells one of her servants to go and brush her hair for her. The maid obeys the Countess and starts brushing her hair, but when the maid brushes it too hard, Bathory gets up and beats down the girl with her hairbrush. According to Scott A. Bonn, a leading Criminologist states that “Many sociopaths are able to form an attachment to a particular individual or group, although they have no regard for society in general or its rules. In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard, disorganized and spontaneous rather than planned.”(Bonn)
This is an important quote to use for this movie because it accurately describes the motives and the lack of emotion for all the murders that she had done. It shows how Elizabeth only had feelings only one other person, Istvan, her lover. The only reason she is murdering these young girls is that she thinks that it makes her look younger. Why would this be important? Well because she only wants to look younger is to win back Istvan after he stopped writing to her and went off and got married to another woman. She doesn’t care about the girls that she had murdered because to her this will get her the end result she wants. Young beauty and her lover. However, there are some people who have seen this film that would disagree with this statement and say that if this was true then what about her “romantic” relationship with Anna Darvulia.
Well all throughout the movie, Bathory does not show any signs or signals that she is in love with Darvulia. They only kiss once at the beginning of the movie and that’s all. There aren’t any emotions of love for Anna. Anna seems to be the only one that is in love with Bathory. This “love” relationship ultimately gets tested within a later scene Bathory tells Darvulia that “is it true that you have only shed love with women, then you are still a virgin.” this striking line is a perfect example of just how much Bathory doesn’t love Darvulia. she says this line with a stone face and no emotion. The power behind this line is that if Darvulia doesn’t do what Bathory wants her to do, then she will just be another girl that was used for her blood.
As the movie continues, the lack of emotion Bathory has for the young girls only grows and grows. 55 minutes and 13 seconds into the movie, Bathory is sitting in a torture chamber that she had built in order to make the killing process more faster. In this scene, Bathory is watching as a young girl is being pierced with large needles. She then looks up to where all of the girl’s blood when drained will be poured all over her. Bathory in this scene is happy when it comes time for the blood to be poured on her.
“In almost every vampire story, the women who are preyed upon meet their deaths, unless the men in their lives come to their rescue.” (Zapata)
Seduction plays a huge role in this movie, without it then Bathory wouldn’t have been so successful with her murders or even with Istvan. The audience at the start of the movie can see the maid that brushed Bathory’s hair too hard is not at all upset with the actions of Bathory. In the scene that is after that one, the maid sits in a room with her head all bundled up. She is braiding a little girls hair, when the young girl asks her what happens to your head, the maid then responds and tells the kid that she was the one at fault and how she deserved to be hit for her actions. Now a normal person who would just get beaten up because of a hairbrush wouldn’t really just accept the abuse. They would be upset at the person that caused them that much pain. And when Bathory told her other servants to keep taking blood from the maid, the maid lets them do it because she is told that this is what the Countess wants.
Later on, Bathory goes to visit the maid who is slowly dying away and tells her that what she is giving her is precious and that it is a gift. The maid after this then asks her how long the pain will last, without protesting, Bathory tells her that the pain won’t stop until there is no blood left in her. The power of Bathory’s seduction gets more powerful with the maids as the movie continues.
The maids aren’t the only people that have been deducted in by Bathory’s charm. Right from the start of the movie, the audience can see that once in the ballroom, she and Istvan can’t stop looking at each other. She finally goes to talk to him and when she does, somehow he seems to be very into her and he wants her. He even tells her that what they are doing is wrong, that her husband just died and how people will talk. Once this is said, Bathory tells him that it shouldn’t matter if anyone is watching or if anyone cares. When she finishes this line, she asks him if it mattered what anybody else thought of the two of them. Automatically Istvan shakes his head while staring into her eyes and kisses her.
This type of seduction happens most movies. The girl or boy wants to get the lover so they put a spell or curse on the other person in order to win them over. For the most part, this seems to always end with the main character getting their lover. However, this logic doesn’t exactly work too well with Istvan. This is when their relationship gets tested and when the murders began.
In one scene, Bathory is In her room waiting for Istvan to come and take her away, as they had both planned to run away together. Within this scene, the audience can see Bathory giving what seems to be Istvan’s necklace or chain of some sort to Darvulia, who by many other characters, Count Thurzo especially believe that she is a witch. Once the piece of Istvan’s jewelry is given to Darvulia, both of the women laugh and Bathory states that the piece of jewelry is from the night they slept together. It isn’t until this scene passes that Istvan starts to become obsessed with Bathory.
He wants to spend every second with her and always be around her. In his eyes, she seems to be seen as completely innocent. Near the end of the movie, Bathory’s murders have spread across the land and the king announces that there will be an investigation set out on Bathory.it is within this scene that Bathory gets the title of being an evil witch. Bathory still tries to seduce the priest, Istvan, his father that she didn’t do anything wrong. We see her in one of the last scenes telling everyone that she didn’t commit murder to anyone. even before the trial, everyone is stunned to hear about she did and they also tried to rule her out of being a monster.
She does an excellent job throughout the movie acting like the sweet innocent widowed queen that it seduces everyone else into doing what she wants them to do and how they should act and how they should talk to her. Once she is found guilty for the crime and is being sentenced, she still denied her crime.she told the others that they were making a myth about her and her life and somewhat stated that all the evidence presented was all a setup. This is maybe because she didn’t really have any emotions regarding anyone but Istvan so it made it easier for her to believe that what she did wasn’t that bad and that it was all to help her become the younger prettier self.
Use of blood
The use of blood in this film is vampiric indeed. She doesn’t bite anyone of the maids but the fact that she is draining their blood out completely is just like a vampire. When a vampire is sucking the blood of their victims, they are draining the blood out sometimes till death. The blood is a symbol of immortality in this movie. Usually, in other vampire movies, blood symbolizes food/ feeding. Immortality is looked at heavily because it’s already known that they are immortal.
In the first scene where Bathory uses the blood on her skin, she states that she feels and looks younger. this scene shows how Bathory might have Gerascophobia which is “An abnormal and persistent fear of growing old. Sufferers of this fear experience undue anxiety about aging even though they may be in good health–physically, economically and otherwise. They may worry about the loss of their looks, the loss of independence, inactivity after retirement, impaired mobility, the onset of disease, and confinement in a nursing home. Modern society’s preoccupation with youthful beauty does nothing to alleviate their fears.” (medicinenet.com)
She thinks that the blood will turn her back to a younger woman. She believes that this “cure” will save her from old age and that without it she is incomplete. Its like shes naked without it.
At 36:03 of the movie, Bathory and Count Thurzo are riding through a field. While they are riding the conversation of where Thurzo was born comes up.
“Bathory: Which part of the kingdom you were born in?
Thurzo: In the castle of Bekov.
Bathory: There are amusing rumors about the castle.A noble family that only lives at the night and eats newborn so I’ve heard.
Thurzo: It is because of a skin condition that flicks most of my family, we are not fond of sunlight….Have you read about the book about Turk’s customs? They drink the blood of our boys’ to take on their strength.” (www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk)
The book of Turk’s customs is an important part of why this movie is indeed a vampire movie. In personal opinion, it is thought that Bathory did indeed read this book and that’s what in her mind makes it ok for all of her murders that she had committed. This is why she never admitted to anyone that what she did was wrong because she didn’t believe it was.
It isn’t until the end of the movie when Bathory is finally locked up behind bars that she sucks her own blood. This scene is shown by presenting Bathory as upset at God for giving her this type of ending to her story. She doesn’t suck her own blood for youth or power. She sucks her own blood because she is way too emotionally attached to the needing of blood. She knows that her blood won’t bring her back to youth or give her a life of immortality. This is because she knows that she is not a virgin.
The use of blood within this film also represents beauty in a way. What this means is that the only time she uses it is when she feels like she is getting old. She then will sit down in front of a mirror and take a cloth and smear the blood all over her face. When the blood is on her face, there is this excitement to her that isn’t seen in the film at all. It seems to be that her one true love according to the film was not human at all but rather the blood.
Role of Sunlight
Sunlight plays a big role in this movie. It somehow affects her mood, maybe. It may also be that the sunlight is a reminder that shows her that she is getting old. The sunlight affects her in the way that sunlight will affect a vampire. If the vampire steps into the sunlight then they will burn alive. For Bathory, if she looks at her skin in the sunlight then it will remind her that she is getting old.It seems to be that her hands are the main problem in the sunlight. In one scene, she is riding in a carriage and when she looks down at her hands that are bathed in the sunlight and she gets disgusted by the looks of them. She then puts on a pair of black gloves as a way to not be reminded of her old age. These gloves give a sense of peace and joy. To know that no one can see her “secret”.
Another scene in which this plays a prominent role is when she wakes up with Istvan by her side. She turns on her side and touches his chest and face. One she notices how her hands look, she tucks them away back under the covers as a means to not see them. Throughout this whole fil, the daylight has always been a mysterious place for Bathory. She never is outside all that much either. She is mainly in a carriage or in her castle.
All of these elements combined to create an epic story of Countess Bathory and her life. The use of blood, seduction, daylight consequences and immortality is what makes up a vampire. Although Bathory didn’t bite and suck the blood from her victims, it wouldn’t be right to at least put her in the category of being one. Vampirism has become such a huge creation of our time. Without Elizabeth Bathory’s story, would there even be a creature such as a vampire today.