12 June 2011

Movies: Black Death

Black Death (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1181791/

Thriller-drama with hint of mystery, set in the late 14th century as the Black Death ravages England.  Stars Sean Bean and a bunch of other folks I didn't readily recognize.  Bean sure is making the rounds of the medieval era/style films.

Young Osmund, acolyte (monk-in-training if you weren't sure), slips from his monastery and sends a young girl out of the town and off into woods to try to keep her safe from the plague ravaging the city. She is one that he obviously loves and may or may not have had inappropriate relations with. She wants him to meet up with her, he tries to divine a way to do so. Ulrich (Sean Bean), envoy of the bishop and on a quest, shows up at the monastery requesting one of the monks lead him to a village in the marsh that is by the very same woods Osmund sent his secret girlfriend. Osmund volunteers for the task as he grew up in the area.
Why is Ulrich and his crew traveling to this village? Rumor has it the plague has not infected the village, that the village has abandoned Christianity, and that a necromancer lives there that can raise the dead.  Ulrich is to bring the necromancer back to the Bishop for proper disposition.
We watch as this group travels through the woods and to the village in the marsh. They ask if they can rest before moving on. The villagers welcome them in with open arms and hold a feast in their honor. muhahaha

I really enjoyed the film. I like Dark Ages films that mix in mystery and local magics and stuff.  Probably why I enjoyed "The Name of the Rose" so much.
This one has a bit of this and that, piles of plague-ravaged bodies, dirt, scum, some swordfighting, slogging through marshes, gruesome torturous deaths. Everything one could want from a dark ages film. At times one could almost smell the putrefaction. Nice.

I liked the sets and locations - they looked sufficiently dirty and poor as one would imagine dark ages locations would look.  Historically accurate? No clue. Worked for me. The cast did well, no complaints about performances. Story was interesting and kept my attention throughout.  About the only thing that caught my eye as sub par occurred with some of the choppiness in the 'slowed-motion' scenes. Something I've noticed in recent films. I think it has to do with the film-to-digital transfer for editing process. So much for nits.

In case you saw it and are wondering - no, the contrast of the hypocritical actions of the pagan villagers vs. the christians sent to destroy them wasn't lost on me either.

I liked it, I recommend it. Great for a scorching Texas Saturday afternoon when it's too damn hot to be outside and you just want to bask in the blessed coolness of the air conditioner.

And, if you haven't seen "The Name of the Rose" yet I highly recommend it. Heck I recommend it over "Black Death", if you are forced to make a choice. That is one smart mystery set in a dark ages monastery movie with a great cast and a great author behind the story.
But, lucky for you, you shouldn't have to make a choice. Both "The Name of the Rose" and "Black Death" are streaming on Netflix right now.  So how about this: roast a goat, pour the mead, light the fire, slip into some chain mail and have yourself a medieval mystery weekend.  Everybody wins!

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