Culture, Film

Movie Catch-up: Black Death (2010)


Black Death movie posterAnother slice of Medieval misery to rival Ironclad, Season of the Witch and Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth / At Worlds End – this time with added Wicker Man! If you can take a thick slice of Dark Ages torture-porn, read on.

1348: the Black Death plague sweeps a superstitious and witch-craft-obsessed Europe. Novice monk Osmond (Eddie Redmayne) is recruited as guide by Inquisitor Ulrich (Sean Bean) as guide to take his cut-throat band to a village said to be controlled by a powerful necromancer. Osmond has already broken his vows and goes in search of his lover Averill who has fled the pestilence.

In a grim Medieval quest of mud, blood and splattery violence to rival Centurion and Valhalla Rising, the one thing you can guarantee is no happy ending…

Our Sean Bean doesn’t exactly have a spotless record, leading a number of cinema turkeys or else turning in pantomime villains for Hollywood. Game of Thrones redeemed him somewhat, but I began Black Death with trepidation.

If you can stomach the Medieval misery, it’s actually a decent reflection of the religious obsession, fear, paranoia, superstition, and barbaric violence of the period. Few outside academia realise what a world away we are from such times. Unfortunately it takes some liberties, throwing in plot elements from all these other movies and history from 1340’s to 1640’s, just to make a decent story arc.

There is a strong thriller element – does witchcraft exist or not? The characters are strong, if stock. Radmayne (My week with Marilyn) does his usual sad-eyed, sour-faced, ginger-on-the-brink of tears routine (trademark Eddie Redmayne, every bloody thing he’s in), Bean is the hard-bitten tough guy, and John Lynch gets to croon the Irish narration as the war-veteran sergeant ahead of a coarse band of mercenaries.

Carice Van Houten (From Time to Time) and oily Tim McInnerny are the suspected witch and necromancer.

Black Death drags on a bit, but is mercifully pacey compared to Valhalla Rising, far less silly than Season of the Witch, befre it turns into Hammer’s Witchfinder General.

All religions take a thumping, Christians and pagans are equally barbaric, good guys don’t exist and the best you can expect is a nasty, violent, bloody end. Still, mustn’t grumble. Turn over to Teletubbies, you’ll feel better in a bit. RC

Black Death
Director: Christopher Smith
Writer: Dario Poloni
Rating: R/18
Running time: 1 hr. 41 min.
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Historical
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, John Lynch, Carice Van Houten, David Warner, Kimberley Nixon, Tim McInnerny

About Robin Catling

Writer; performer; project manager; sports coach; all-round eccentric.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Movie Catch-up: Black Death (2010)

  1. thanks for the good post.

    Posted by Claudio Tincani | February 18, 2013, 2:07 pm
  2. You should know better with Sean Bean.

    Posted by Cecelle Barby | February 20, 2013, 10:57 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Movie Catch-up: From Time to Time (2009) | Everything Express - April 2, 2013

  2. Pingback: Review: Game of Thrones Season 2 | Everything Express - April 20, 2013

  3. Pingback: Review: From Darkness (BBC TV) | Everything Express - October 26, 2015

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