Mar 11, 2011

Posted in 2010s, Coming Soon, European Films, Films Categories, Flicks by Decades, Ray, Reviewers, UK

Black Death (2011)

Black Death (2011)

Poor Black Death.  The British import about 14th-century mercenary knights on a mission to find a witch who allegedly protects a village from the titular epidemic hits American theaters not long after the remarkably similar Nicholas Cage flop Season of the Witch, which was about a group of knights and a witch whose powers are thought to be the source of a plague.  It’s bad enough when your film bears a resemblance to another that just came out, but when you’re beaten to theaters by a laughable failure, it’s worse.  Even more unfortunately, most people will probably be confused enough to simply write off Black Death, when it deserves a much better fate.

Eddie Redmayne stars as Osmund, a young monk undergoing a crisis of faith, having fallen in love with a woman named Averill.  With the plague now reaching his monastery, he sends her into the forest for her own safety.

When a group of knights led by Ulric (Sean Bean) arrives seeking a guide to a village in the swamp that is allegedly protected from the plague by a witch (Carice Van Houten), Osmund agrees to accompany them, hoping to the mission with restore his faith.

Black Death deserves a lot of credit, as it chooses to play its subject straight.  It effectively recreates the chaos and uncertainty of a world seemingly governed by invisible, magical forces without bringing a modern perspective into it to rebut the characters’ beliefs.  It doesn’t choose sides, either – the knights aren’t presented as superior to the pagan villagers, and it doesn’t show either faith as being better than the other, exhibiting the ugliness that lies at the extremes of both.
This is especially true of its ending, which goes someplace unexpectedly dark, yet sad.  It’s a pleasant surprise to find such in intelligent commentary on religion in this movie, of all places: in particularly trying times, it may just be enough for something to be for desperate people to follow it.

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Rating: 4.0/5 (3 votes cast)
Black Death (2011), 4.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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