Monday, June 9, 2008

The Blood Countess

Author(s): Joshua
Location: NY

"The Blood Countess"

Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Ronald Harwood
Produced by Alain Sarde & Robert Benmussa
Executive Produced by Michael Hirst & Timothy Burill
Distributed by R.P Productions
Film Editing by Juliette Welfling
Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski
Art Direction by Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer
Make-Up by Didier Lavergne
Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne
Set Decoration by Peter Howitt
Original Score by Wojciech Kilar

Main Cast

Alexandra Maria Lara - Countess Elizabeth "Erzsebet" Bathory
Vlad Ivanov - Count Ferencz Nadasdy
Rade Serbedzija - King Matthias
Bruno Ganz - Father Istvan Magyari
Thomas Krestschmann - Gyorgy Thurzo
Geraldine Chaplin - Katalin - Servant
Marketa Irglova - Dorottya - Servant
Virginie Ledoyen - Fickó - Servant
Daniela Nane - Ilona - Servant
Maximilian Schell - Theodosious Syrmiensis de Szulo

Tagline: "May God Bless Those Who Ever Cross Paths With The Bloody Countess"

Synopsis: On the cold stone floor of the great hall lay a pale, partially clothed young girl. She failed to move. They wondered if she might simply be asleep or drunk, so several men went toward her. Still, she made no effort to rouse herself. One man reached down to touch her and shook his head. He told the others she was dead. They turned her over and saw how pale she looked. She appeared to have been drained of blood, exactly as the rumors went. Then they heard a moan. Just a few paces away was another girl, sprawled face up but still alive. The men discovered that her body had been pierced in many places. She was also pale, as if from severe blood emptiness. The scene was too monstrous to be written into a permanent record, but there was plenty to tell for those who would be called to the legal proceedings. The officials arrested all of those involved in the evil activities, freed the surviving victims, and took the sorceress into a room in her own castle, to confine her until a decision was made about her fate.

Her name was Countess Elizabeth Bathory and she was a member of a powerful family from an estate at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains . Elizabeth was not an easy child, nor was life easy for her, despite being a member of the privileged class. She suffered from fits, and uncontrolled rages that may have indicated a brain disorder. At the age of 15, she married Count Ferencz Nadasdy, a great warrior who was often away from home. Elizabeth moved into Nadasdy's castle in Sarvar and learned how to run a great estate. She maintained herself until her husband died in 1604, and then the unthinkable began.

She soon began to forcefully make her servant Katalin to lure women and children into the castle. All her servants knew the torturing of innocent souls was reprehensible, but obeyed due to their lives being threatened. Lutheran priest István Magyari complained that villagers talked about young women disappearing, as well as children. King Matthias assigned Gyorgy Thurzo to investigate. Finally, the peasant girls had run out. Elizabeth had done so much thus far without being stopped. Arrogance made her bold and stupid. She was eager to extend her reach for the thrill of seeing what she could get away with. She also appeared to be so caught up with the pleasures of what she was doing that she could not stop. Eventually she was caught. Now she awaits her judgement.

What the Press would say:

The Blood Countess brings back Roman Polanski in his best to date. Although some may disagree, I find that Polanski proves that he can still amaze in the horror genre because I found this film to be all horrifying as it's telling the true story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Bathory who was deranged since birth begins takes it to the extreme when she starts torturing innocent people. It is the scenes that we see Bathory command her servants to lure people into the castle that really cuts down to the core and why i find so horrifying and yes, why the infamous legend was nicknamed the Blood Countess.

Alexandra Maria Lara (Downfall, Youth Without Youth) delivers the performance of her career as Elizabeth Bathory. Lara, whose Romanian is pitch perfect for the part and her older appearance helps her in the process too. She really brings out the madness of her character and there's no reason why she shouldn't be considered for many awards as she plays a woman who takes interest in seeing human beings suffer.

There are some great supporting performances that need to be taken into consideration. Rade Serbedzjia rules as King Matthias who orders an investigation towards the countess once he gets tired of complaints being made from Father Magyari. Bruno Ganz plays Magyari in his third film with Alexandra Maria Lara and he couldn't better. He's the one who dealt with the villagers who are hysterical over their missing loved ones. Geraldine Chaplin, who can transform herself into any character really outdones herself this time as one of Elizabeth's servants. She fears Bathory and tries to obey her every order. Orders that include tricking little children into the castle, knowing their fate. We also have great performances by Vlad Ivanov as Elizabeth's husband Nadasdy and Maximillian Schell as Judge Szulo. Schell is only on screen for ten minutes but still manages to impress. He takes judgement into his own hands and convicts the countess to life house arrest and her servants to death.

Ronald Harwood teams up with Roman Polanski once again and it's no shock that what they accomplish is pure masterful. Everyone involved with the film is right. Lara's make-up is handled by the Oscar Winning Didier Lavergne (La Vie En Rose). Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stoker's Dracula) works his magic for the scores that just go right for the film. No scene will disatisfy, No scene will leave you without the question of why a beautiful woman like Elizabeth could be so ugly and evil at heart. In the end, we see a beat up Elizabeth, sitting in a chair, suffering her punishment of house arrest. Looking out the window without a care in the world. Without pity or sorrow, the film ends and all I can think about is the fact that Roman Ploanski's The Blood Countess is one to watch for come Oscar time.

For Yor Consideration

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actress - Alexandra Maria Lara
Best Supporting Actor - Rade Serbedzjia
Best Supporting Actor - Bruno Ganz
Best Supporting Actror - Maximillian Schell
Best Supporting Actress - Geraldine Chaplin
Best Crew
Best Tagline
Best Film Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction
Best Ensemble
Best Original Score

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