Black Death, a supernatural thriller set in England in the year 1348, will be coming to movie theaters next month. Starring Sean Bean, the movie centers around the efforts of a monk and a group of knights to learn the secret why a remote village is not being effected by the plague which is ravaging Europe.
We are pleased to interview Dario Poloni, who wrote the screenplay for the film. He gives us some new insights about the movie:
How did you come up with the idea of setting a supernatural thriller in the Middle Ages?
I have always been fascinated by history and feel it is an underused resource in British films, certainly film makers tend to favour some periods of our history over others, and pre-Elizabethan England is not seen that often. For me just the name ‘The Dark Ages’ is enough to get the imagination going. I’m not sure I’d classify the film as supernatural, that decision is for the audience to make.
What was so appealing about the episode of the Black Death to make it your background to the story?
As a backdrop the Black Death is a writer’s dream, a chaotic, turbulent and unpredictable world. It’s hard to draw too much of a parallel between today’s epidemics / health concerns and what happened back in 1348, partly because the world was so different then, as was the mindset of the average person. Though I believe fear of contagious disease is part of the human psyche, and of course that made this period especially interesting. But just as much of an attraction was the ‘Wild West’ aspect, the lawlessness, the fear of the unknown and the lack of central organisation .
Anytime you make a film set in another historical era, a balance needs to be achieved between achieving a realistic look to the movie and making it accessible to a modern audience. Was their a challenge for you in doing this when creating dialogue and developing the plot?
I decided immediately not to go for Shakespearian / period type dialogue, but instead to use a robust Anglo Saxon that hopefully does not sound modern but is at the same time completely accessible. The look of the film is more in the hands of the director and set designer but I felt it was in keeping with the mood I wanted to create and also more authentic to set the story in remote, rural locations – as at that time the majority of the population did not live in large towns – and of course this helped with the budget!
In the end, how do you think the audience will react to Black Death when they see it?
My hope is that people will see the film as an intriguing and chilling story, set in a period of history about which they may have heard but know very little. The aim of everyone involved, the director, myself, the actors, was to make something that would have popular appeal and at the same time give you something to think about. The medieval world was truly fascinating for all sorts of reasons, hopefully we have captured a small piece of what made it such an interesting period. Ultimately the aim of the film is to entertain, to take you out of your world and place you into another one for 90 minutes – I’m optimistic we have achieved that.
We thank Dario Poloni for answering our questions
Black Death hits British movie theaters on June 11th. Click here to see a trailer for the film.
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