Greed, corruption, ignorance, and disease. Midsummer, 1349: the Black Death reaches northern Germany. Minstrels go to Hamelin for the Mayor's daughter's wedding to the Baron's son. He wants...
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Greed, corruption, ignorance, and disease. Midsummer, 1349: the Black Death reaches northern Germany. Minstrels go to Hamelin for the Mayor's daughter's wedding to the Baron's son. He wants her dowry to pay his army while his father taxes the people to build a cathedral he thinks will save his soul. A local apothecary who's a Jew seeks a treatment for the plague; the priests charge him with witchcraft. One of the minstrels, who has soothed the Mayor's daughter with his music, promises to rid the town of rats for the fee. The Mayor agrees, then reneges. In the morning, the plague, the Jew's trial, and the Piper's revenge come at once. Written by
Too bleak for its target audience, but not without interest...
Grimm Brothers tale of a strolling minstrel in 1349 Germany who agrees to rid the village of Hamelin of plague-carrying rats is given a serious, perhaps overly-solemn treatment. Jacques Demy has directed the story in a straightforward fashion, without any humor or playfulness, mystery or beauty (with the exception of the sunrise-heightened finale). Pop singer Donovan is well-cast in the title role, and his music compositions are good even if his songs are not of the Medieval period. The other cast members--top-billed Jack Wild, Donald Pleasance and John Hurt--have very little to do; Wild, in particular, is forced to painfully hobble around with a crutch as an alchemist's assistant. Michael Hordern as Melius, who is unable to conjure a cure for the Black Death and is arrested for being a heretic, gives the picture's finest performance, though his final moment tied to a stake may prove to be too heavy for the movie's supposed 'family audience.' The dank, mildewy locations, period costumes and bedraggled extras all lend a convincing air to the film, but "Piper"'s downbeat nature (not to mention all those rats!) makes it a tough sell. ** from ****
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