She was said to bathe in the blood of virgins, but Jakubisko maintains she was simply a powerful woman who got caught up in the politics of men.
The Slovak helmer, known to the local media as "the Fellini of Eastern Europe" and a man who favors white suits and broad-brimmed black hats, has set a new high-water mark for productions in the cash-strapped Central European country with "Bathory."
The $13.3 million shoot, which stretched over the last year, outgunned that of Jan Sverak's Czech World War II romancer "Dark Blue World," in part by incorporating battle scenes from the Turks' invasion of Renaissance Europe.
"We couldn't pass up the Turkish wars," said Jakubisko. "They significantly influenced that time."
Aside from tricky combat scenes and a host of location shots in Hungary, Austria and Slovakia, "Bathory" survived, at one point, a six-week funding crisis when bank loans didn't materialize. It was completed with the help of co-production funding from Lunar Films and Film & Music Entertainment of the U.K., and with Mythberg Films of Hungary, plus Czech, Slovak and European film funds.
The moody costume drama stars Anna Friel, Karel Roden and Franco Nero, among dozens of others, and has done much to energize local industryites with the potential of co-productions in light of state coffers that all but rung hollow in recent years.
In Slovakia in particular, pubcaster Slovak TV has been embroiled in controversy for not doing more to support noncommercial production, but a shake-up this year was partly intended to remedy that.
Nevertheless, Slovak production, despite boom times for the once-struggling nation of 5.3 million, remains thin on the ground. What does get made tends to win accolades, such as "Other Worlds," a docu that won kudos for helmer Marko Skop this year at the Karlovy Vary fest, and last year's "City of the Sun," Martin Sulik's tale of working-class heroes struggling in a changing economy.