Black Death Reviews
Sean Bean heads a good character driven cast (including Tim McInnerny of 'Blackadder' fame) despite still looking like 'Boromir' of 'LOTR'. His mates are a dirty ugly bunch all set on pushing the Christian faith through England and that's it. The plot is basically just a gang of warriors on a mission getting taken down one by one, usual affair, but its niche is it being set in the time of the bubonic plague and rather grotty. Last man standing film ritual really, nothing new.
It looks great, you can almost smell the rotting filth in the air and taste the mud the group slowly wades through, all accompanied by that typical eerie chanting you tend to hear in old fashioned Abbeys by monks. The musical score is very spiritual, deep and haunting with an ethereal essence about it, it works very well for the era. Its just a shame the ending gets a little bit silly and kinda 'Wicker Man-ish'. Still its a good film that has gone under the radar probably because its a British/German production, I don't think the Yanks know what the bubonic plague was.
I like how the characters developed especially Osmund. He turns into the exact type of person his friend told him not to become, and he changed. It was a pretty depressing story all around. There wasn't any happiness in it. A few twists, and it was pretty sad. It was good though. Really violent and the people were all so angry, but I liked it.
The film sets off rightly enough, with Sean Bean playing a knight Templar, commissioned by the Vatican to seek out a village allegedly immune to the Black Death of the title, and also rumored to be in the thrall of a necromancer (a wizard able to raise the dead). On his way to find the village he stops in a town and visits its abbey, itself not immune to the clutches of the plague. He hires a young acolyte to act as a guide, as said acolyte was raised in the forest wherein the village lies. The acolyte readily volunteers, as he sees it as his opportunity to reunite with the girl of his fancy, whom he has sent away to save her from the plague.
Ok, so much for the setup - the film becomes a medieval road tale for a stretch, with a few battle scenes between the knights and bandits thrown in (unfortunately using way to much hand held shaky cam). When the knights, replete with all kinds of lovely torture devices (used to get at the, ahem, "truth") arrive at the village they find it very normal... at first.
Without going into the details, what the film then boils down to is a simple case of point of view. The villagers believe in what they believe, while the church knights of course believe that anything that steps outside of their narrow tenants is blasphemy and heresy punishable by death (or torture resulting in death, depending on the mood of the knights).
That the villagers resort to the same kind of tactics in order to protect themselves is the telling of the tale for the film, which really tells more about faith than anything else. Cast in the dark ages as it is, the conflict between mysticism and the almighty church is relevant, as the populace, for the most part, are simple and unread (and unwashed for that matter...). What is suggested by Bean's knight is that the church was in a spot of trouble. They blamed the plague on God's wrath (yep, the people were bad sinners and needed to be punished) - and yet that strategy backfired as people don't like being told that they are to blame for anything. Further, when the plague started hitting the abbeys and priests, the people just had to wonder if perhaps the church wasn't just a sham after all.
I wish the film would have devoted itself more into this fascinating argument concerning faith, but it remained rooted too much in its depiction of the dark ages, and then committed the sin of throwing in a surprise twist followed by a totally bogus tag ending that made carried no emotional impact nor made much sense.
Langiva: Men like you killed him.
Osmund: Men like me?
Langiva: Men of God.
Black Death is a very dark thriller set in 1348. The plague is whipping out villages and there's battles between Christians and the non-believers. I really like the religious aspect of the movie. It makes for some very interesting scenes, especially the last quarter of the movie. Sean Bean is perfectly cast as Ulric and delivers a powerful performance. Although, I did like the movie; I feel like it could have been so much better. But for a little movie I hadn't heard of until recently it was a pleasant surprise.
Director: Christopher Smith
Summary: Sean Bean stars in this historically rooted horror-thriller as Ulric, a church-appointed knight in the age of the Bubonic Plague's first wave who's tasked with investigating rumors of a woman (Carice van Houten) who can bring the dead back to life. A young monk (Eddie Redmayne) named Osmund is aiding Ulric on his quest to root out the necromancer -- and to determine whether or not she has ties to Satan.
My Thoughts: "Religion aside, this is a great thriller. The fight scenes are exciting and the acting is great. The story is very interesting and I enjoyed the few surprising twists along the way. Although the film is based around religion, I felt it was more about Osmund's struggle with love, betraying God, and where his grief took him. Its dark, depressing, and bloody. It was a much better film than I had expected it to be."
Going into it, I wasn't quite sure what to realy suspect, but I had a feeling that this would end up being a cool idea that became a half baked b-movie that fell short of the mark. I'm glad that I'm wrong, because this was a really solid film that was far better than it needed to be.
The fact that there's some substance here is even better. This film is all about guilt, suspicion, faith, and putting beliefs to the test. The time period being used here is suitably appropriate as a result, and, for the sake of cinema, the subject matter also leaves room for flexibility and lee way in terms of specific conten, ie supernatural stuff is okay.
The crew seem to have done some homework. I'm no expert on the time period, but I've taken courses on it. I know the Church too, and, a few minor errors aside, they got that pretty good too. There are a few moments of anachronistic dialogue, but, given the context with how they are used, it's totally forgivable, and it works.
This isn't some heady art film, but it's not a cheapie cast off either. The themes are present, but this is more of a supernatural thriller instead of a heavy dose of intellectualizing. Besides having a decent story and some cool ideas, the film is absolutely creepy and unnerving, and the script isn't totally predictable either.
There's a wonderful sense of atmosphere, and some truly great shots and moments. The cast is good, or good enough. They get the job done, let's just put it that way. Special props though, for the fact that Tygo Gernandt is a dead ringer for Klaus Kinski as Aguirre, especially since this was intentional and not some coincidence.
I didn't absolutely love this movie, but I'm giving it an extremely high B+. I liked how the film gave no simple answers and played with ambiguity, especially moral ambiguity, but I'm not sure if everyone will be cool with that.
You should still see this though, because it's really well made, entertaining, and will give you some things to ponder over afterwards.
Black Death is a brutal, dark film set in England during the Middle Ages. A young monk accompanies a group of soldiers in search of a village that has been untouched by the black plague that is ravaging the land. Rumors are that witchcraft and necromancy are at the heart of why the village has been spared.
After a journey through danger and death spawned both from the plague and men, they reach the village. The story proceeds onward from there, and you have a fine 14th century horror/thriller on your hands.
The movie is shot with a realistic style and muted colors, which goes well with the frequent scenes of disease-borne misery and bloody violence. The cast does fine, though I was only familiar with two of the actors previously. Sean Bean, who is always a great choice in anything involving swords (or any movie, period), and Johnny Harris, who you may recall from his memorable role in the recent Disappearance of Alice Creed. And now I'm also familiar with Carice Van Houten and Eddie Redmayne, who play two of the most important parts of the movie and do an absolutely sterling job.
I really liked Black Death. The plot quickly grabs you and takes all sorts of interesting twists and turns before the end, there's enough action to satisfy nearly anyone (though it's not the focus of the film), and the characters are surprisingly three dimensional. Highly recommended.
Overall i'd say this is a pretty good film. Not stellar, but I was pleased with the film. I'd recommend it.
Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.
This morbid, but hearty little slow-grinding Gothic period action horror is something like the "Witchfinder General" meets "The Wicker Man". Those two are favourites of mine and while it might not reach the heights of those mentioned films, it still doesn't put much of a foot wrong. This medieval piece is set during the times when the black plague ravaged England and a group of mercenary knights along with a young monk (who's torn between his faith and the affection of a woman) head out to hunt down a Necromancer, where it's believed they're using their witchery to keep away the plague from their small remote rural community.
Christopher Smith is an up and coming British director (with likes of "Creep", "Severance" and "Triangle" behind him) and his next diverse effort "Black Death" didn't disappoint. While the direction is descriptively slick and steady (and well photographed), he really captures the dark, turbulent atmosphere of the period, as the stench of death and the bleak colouring covers the screen. While conventional in some story arches (the camaraderie between a ragtag group), it remains smartly written and jarringly effective by never centralising on one viewpoint but actually opening up with more stinging questions. The harrowing back-end is rather despairing and chilling, therefore quite enthralling due to a central character's delusional mindset. The violence can be furious, brutal and gusty, but still underneath it all is a creepy and cruel menace. Sean Bean's ruggedly virtuous performance sticks out, but there's good support from Eddie Redmayne and an eerily succulent turn by Carice van Houten whose manipulative presence was always hypnotic when on screen.