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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: May 27: Black Death


May 27: Black Death

"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."

Black Death is a terrific little film that flew completely under the radar when it was released in 2010. Starring Sean Bean, had this film been released after season one of Game of Thrones, I am sure this would have seen a wide theatrical release. Unfortunately, it did not, and it is a shame because many people will go without seeing Black Death. There are very few films set during the time of the bubonic plague and when one comes around on the rare occasion, I'm always hoping it will be something good. I mean, a pandemic that brought nearly 100 million people to an early, painful death provides plenty of material to be used for all sorts of films. Black Death does indeed focus on this ravaging of Europe (duh, it's the title) and instead of being a run-of-the-mill swords, knights, and bloodshed movie, it actually has one hell of a story that leaves a lot to be thought over and discussed. 

Plus, it has a pretty badass poster. 

Black Death follows the story of a knight named Ulrich (Sean Bean) who leads his men on an expedition through the contaminated lands of Europe, seeking a village rumored to have not only been able to avoid the plague but, holds a power to bring the dead back to life. Ulrich enlists the help of Osmund (Eddie Redmayne), a young monk who knows the area and can be a valuable guide through the harsh swamp lands that surround the village. As Ulrich and his party reach the village, their faith in God is tested, and all is not what it seems as everything takes a wicked turn into unexpected territory. Black Death has many twists and turns throughout it's seemingly straight-forward story. The film reminds me a lot of The Wicker Man, with paganism and Christianity playing a large part of the plot and showing that evil ways do not necessarily elude those with good intentions. 

It's actually pretty creepy...

I would definitely recommend Black Death. It has plenty of style AND substance and is a great look at how far people can go when it comes to what they believe. The entire film is bleak, as the title references, and the director, Christopher Smith, does a great job at capturing it. Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne give great performances, as does the supporting cast, and each character is developed well enough that you care about their outcome. The film is no masterpiece but it does tell a good (although depressing) story and is much more than a regular hack-n-slash ironclad flick you see in the bargain bin at Walmart. 

The Good:
a dark, meaningful story that shows faith in God can be stronger (or weaker) than the cold steel of a sword
The Better:
a great cast lead by the always amazing Sean Bean
The Best:
a film that actually tells a story of the bubonic plague very well and with the depressing, dark atmosphere it... deserves?

Overall: 7.4/10


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