Black Death: Plenty of Plagues, Pus, and Pestilence
Nothing heralds spring like a plague-and-pestilence movie, and Black Death has the suppuration and body count to fit the bill. Thankfully, its also a fairly nuanced meditation on the subjectivity of blind faith and its attendant brutality, and as such works as a worthy companion piece to last years Valhalla Rising, right down to the murky palette. The story concerns a novice monk (Eddie Redmayne) in medieval Europe who joins a group of knights sent by the church to find a remote village rumored to be immune to the plague. Theres also talk of a necromancer there who resuscitates the dead, whom the brooding leader of the band (Sean Bean) has sworn to kill. Once they arrive, however, the town appears disorientingly idyllic, and its high priestess (Black Books Carice van Houten) is a gracious host whos also easy on the eyes. Its no surprise that things arent exactly as they seem. Screenwriter Dario Poloni and director Christopher Smith provide enough sword-and-sorcery hoo-ha to please the Lord of the Rings demographic, but the movies real coup is in how it repeatedly shifts our allegiance from Christians to pagans, interrogating the unfathomably still-popular notion that barbarism is best countered with more of the same.
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