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, a mission that pulls him toward a village ruler who has made a dark pact with evil forces. Written by
When Ulrich and party come across a group of villagers about to execute a suspected witch in the forest, she is tied to a ladder, which is consistent with witch executions in Germany, where the movie was filmed (the ladder would be tipped backward into a bonfire). In England, where the film is supposed to take place, a suspected witch would be tied to an upright stake and set aflame directly. See more »
The fumes of the dead are in the air like poison. The plague, more cruel and more pitiless than war, descended upon us. A pestilence, that would leave half of our kingdom dead. Where did it come from? What carried its germ. The priests told us it was God's punishment. For what sin? What commandment must we break that could earn this? No, we knew the truth. This was not God's work, but devilry. Or witchcraft. But our task, to hunt down a demon, was God's cure.
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Black Death is a hidden gem, as others have put it, and far from the Hollywood slop it so sharply contrasts. It could not be much more true to its' name, which is quite possibly the bleakest title a film can be given, while it feels genuine to its period backdrop. Everything here feels true to its' nature. And there is no excess of special effects or melodrama, or anything watered down, and instead the story is full of substance.
In 1348, the young monk Osmund finds himself conflicted at the films start, as his secret love Avrill is fleeing their plague-ridden city and provides him the choice to meet her in the marshland. Upon asking for a sign for guidance, his monastery is visited by Ulrich and his party of Christian fundamentalists. On a mission to a village beyond the marsh in search of a necromancer and any other witches to stamp out, he asks for a guide and young Osmund obliges. Thus begins an ugly and gritty crusade across an English countryside that is riddled with fear, intolerance, and the Black Death.
The struggle is personal as well as conceptual. For Osmund it is personal, as his love for Avrill causes him to question his own faith due to the charms and tricks of the pagans (huge plot twists underly this theme)and the brutality of the band he guides. And then the bigger picture, the struggle between the Christians and the pagans, is tastefully portrayed with an objective narrative. In the film, there are cruelties and acts of brutality inflicted from both belief systems. This was perhaps my favorite element to the movie. While personally I rooted for the pagans against the tyranny of the church, I found that my brother and I could argue over who was the demonized side, and the writing offered no kind of resolution. That the oppression of the church and the clandestine nature of the pagans only fueled one another is probably truer to history than textbooks will ever show, this movie portrays the idea brilliantly (despite the dark feel).
If you think the movie sounds interesting, and are interested in it for plot, substance,and a gratifying experience, check this one out.
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