Black Death (film)

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Black Death

Starring Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, David Warner and Carice Van Houten

Synopsis: The year is 1348. Europe has fallen under the shadow of the Black Death. As the plague decimates all in its path, fear and superstition are rife. In this apocalyptic environment, the church is losing its grip on the people. There are rumors of a village, hidden in marshland that the plague cannot reach. There is even talk of a necromancer who leads the village and is able to bring the dead back to life. Ulric (Sean Bean), a fearsome knight, is charged by the church to investigate these rumors. He enlists the guidance of a novice monk, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) to lead him and his band of mercenary soldiers to the marshland, but Osmund has other motives for leaving his monastery. Their journey to the village and events that unfold take them into the heart of darkness and to horrors that will put Osmund’s faith in himself and his love for God to the ultimate test.

“Black Death is an entertaining, scary, frightening journey through a very intense time in history” explains producer Jens Meurer. “The plague was ravaging Europe, people were dying and it was also a time full of superstition and fanaticism and it’s that fanaticism, if you look closely, we can relate it to our present world. Some of the characters in Black Death actually remind me of Donald Rumsfeld leading us all not to a secret village in mediaeval Sachsen-Anhalt, but into Iraq with a similar argument: “we are on a journey of the righteous; we’re battling the axis of evil.” I think the extremism and fanaticism of people who are utterly convinced of the validity of their position just hasn’t changed, which is frightening in itself. Also, ironically enough, just as we started filming, Swine Flu broke out in Mexico and you could see that nothing’s really changed – people’s instinct is to be afraid of disease. I think the hysterical reaction that we saw to Swine Flu in 2009, again, shows that it’s a very deep-seated human fear of the upheaval that disease can bring just as it did back in the time of the Black Death”.

The movie was filmed over a seven-week period in the spring of 2009 in Germany. “It made complete sense to shoot the whole film in Germany, mostly in Sachsen-Anhalt, because it’s the medieval heartland of Germany” explains producer Phil Robertson, “It’s full of castles, monasteries, amazing landscapes, forests, mountains, lakes and marshes, so it was a natural fit for the world of Black Death.

Videos

See our Interview with Dario Poloni, who wrote the screenplay for Black Death

Reviews

From the Huffington Post: “Christopher Smith’s Black Death is a thoughtful and engaging film that isn’t quite as traumatic as it wants to be.”

From Brand X: “Where Season of the Witch descended into a frenzy of second-rate CGI horror effects as it progressed, Black Death takes a more realistic approach. The denizens of the “evil village” may be as brutal as the warriors, but their arguments against faith are, from a modern perspective, pretty compelling.”

From IndieWire: “Black Death embraces its horror roots with ample bloodshed, at which point the silly costumes and anachronistic dialogue no longer seem so absurd.”

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Sharan Newman