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Grim and atmospheric medieval film
slam16316 October 2010
Medieval scholars will probably find substantial problems with the film's depiction of the Middle Ages, but to a non-historian it certainly feels closer than many other period movies: buildings are mostly squalid and insubstantial, the weapons and armor of the soldiers are crude and ill-assorted - Ulric (Sean Bean), the bishop's envoy, has the best of everything, while his followers are progressively less well-equipped as they descend the social scale - and it gives a good sense of the unwelcoming, sparsely-populated landscapes of medieval Britain. The casting works well too: the soldiers are, for the most part, neither Hollywood pretty-boys nor stock grotesques, but have the look of real people, 'warts and all'.

The impression of a brutal, bleak time when life was not merely cheap but nearly worthless is reinforced by the look of the film. It's coldly lit, and everything is misty and uncertain. This distinctive atmosphere creates a feeling of constantly impending disaster without the need for the cheap frights and minor chords of a horror movie.

The characterization is often surprisingly complex: Ulric may be a fanatic, but he's also a pragmatist who is no crueler than he needs to be. Even his soldiers are not one-dimensional brutes, but have their own personalities, with subtly-sketched human traits. The film encourages you to think about the motivation of even the most minor characters. Eddie Redmayne as Osmund does a good job of presenting a complex and conflicted character for much of the film.

The weak point where the characters are concerned are the women. Averill (Kimberley Nixon) and Langiva (Carice Van Houten) sometimes feel more like plot devices than people. This is not the fault of the actresses, who both deliver good performances. It's just that their characters are more constrained by the requirements of the plot.

As with any film in which religion plays a major part, there's been some debate as to whether the film is pro- or anti-Christian. To my mind, it's neither. All the characters, whichever faction they represent, are badly compromised. The only value system that it really seems to promote is that of simple humanity. It's no accident that the director gives the final voice- over to Wolfstan (John Lynch), who emerges ultimately as the film's most sympathetic character, a somewhat tarnished and world-weary ideal of what it means to be a 'good man'.

By and large, the film works well in terms of plot and pacing. It doesn't drag, and there are few obvious plot holes. Where it falls down badly, however, is with the ending segment, which feels like a hurriedly-sketched afterthought. The fact that the director felt it necessary to deliver key material in the form of a voice-over should have warned him that he needed to rethink his approach. The film would probably have been not only complete but also stronger if that whole section had simply been cut.

It isn't a standout film, but it's certainly an interesting one. It's well made and acted and it leaves you with plenty to think about. Any film-maker who wants to truly convey the feel of the Middle Ages - brutal and squalid, and at once alien and familiar - should watch "Black Death" and take notes.
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Atmospheric n incendiary film.
Fella_shibby11 December 2016
The movie did a good job in showing the good and bad sides of human nature. It is dark n brutal with solid themes. Some may complain about the lack of gore but they r missing the underlying meaning of this film. Sean Bean n Eddie Redmayne did a good job. Carice van Houten is illecebrous in this film. The locations r appropriately beautiful, sinister, foggy and ancient all at the same time. As a viewer I genuinely got transported to the medieval time. While viewing this, The Name of the Rose came to my mind. Have enjoyed Christopher Smith's Traingle, Creep n Severance.
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"We journey into Hell... But God travels with us."
Mr_Saxon4 August 2010
Set during the period of English history when the Bubonic plague spreads death across the land, a troubled young monk named Osmund is recruited by a band of soldiers to investigate a village that remains untouched. What they find there will change them forever.

Having enjoyed Christopher Smith's previous movies ("Creep", "Severance" and "Triangle"), I had high hopes for "Black Death" and was not disappointed. Although the gore of his previous movies is still evident during the battle scenes in which arms are severed by swords and heads crushed by maces, it's largely underplayed here with the script placing greater emphasis on the story's themes of faith, religion, superstition and love. It is this emphasis, along with the various twists in the plot, which make the choices faced by the characters in the third act of the movie so very interesting.

I was repeatedly reminded of the original "Wicker Man" whilst watching "Black Death", not only because of the central theme of a devout Christian confronting something terrible which attempts to challenge and undermine his own beliefs, but also because of the cold, bleak cinematography reminiscent of a seventies horror movie. The entire production is nicely directed and Smith utilises his horror knowledge to keep a constant and oppressive threat running throughout the film, regardless of the scene, to maximum effect. The visual effects, whether for the symptoms of the plague itself or for the various wounds suffered by the characters, are also excellent.

The cast are universally fantastic, although Sean Bean's towering performance – portraying the leader of the soldiers and a man "more dangerous than pestilence" – steals the movie. Eddie Redmayne does well in the central role of Osmund and manages to make his character's personal journey both interesting and believable, whilst Carice van Houten is also memorable in an important role during the second half of the movie.

I was very impressed by "Black Death" and would recommend it to those who enjoy atmospheric horror movies such as the aforementioned "The Wicker Man" or "Don't Look Now", as well as those who seek out movies set in or around this period of Britain such as "In The Name Of The Rose" and "The Reckoning". Although parts are grim and even upsetting, it's never dull and is definitely a movie worthy of your time and support.
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Really surprised and a nice twist too
amesmonde12 October 2010
Set in 1348 the Black Death is at it peak, however, one village appears to be immune to the plague. Ulric (Sean Bean) devoted Christian enlist the help of a Monk (Eddie Redmayne) to lead him and his men through dangerous lands to this unholy village where it is said the dead are being brought back to life.

Two British directors and writers really standout for me in recent years, Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Descent and Doomsday) and Christopher Smith (Creep, Triangle and Severance). Smith's latest offering has it the mark with a blend of swords, Catholicism and Wicker released the same year Neil Marshall's well advertised Centurion, which on first viewing was bloody but average compared to Marshall's other work.

Smith's vision with marshes, fog and mists across the lands it oozes atmosphere. The gritty realistic sets and settings are note worthy, everything looks authentic and aged, perfect for first outbreak of bubonic plague. There's some great practical effects, cadavers, dismemberment's and blood. The flights are finely choreographed and swordplay is raw and relentless as limbs are hacked off.

The latter part of the film slows down, building tension in the seemingly safe village, Smith's develops the eerie strangeness of the rural superbly, reminiscent of the Wickerman (1973 & 2006), In the Name of the Rose (1986) and The Village (2004).

Although in fear of being typecast as another chain armoured soldier Bean gives a passionate and gripping performance, and newcomer Redmayne plays the confounded monk Osmund's admirably. The supporting cast, even though another band mercenaries are memorable and the characters are developed. Comedy actor Tim McInnerny is satisfactory in an unusual serious role as the village head. There's a notable cameo by David Warner as The Abbot. However, it's Carice van Houten who steals the show as Langiva the striking necromancer.

There's a little too much shaky hand held camera work at times, that aside the cinematography is first rate. Dario Poloni screenplay is the icing on the cake, as the dialogue feels authentic and unforced, compared to the aforementioned other period piece. It explores religious beliefs, faith, witch hunts, occultism and much more.

With low expectation's for another period piece, I was pleasantly surprised by Smith's vision. Certainly not perfect or the grandest film; however, it's a gripping medieval, satanic mystery action that has a nice original twist at the end.
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Good exploration of the nature of religion
jarid_h10 September 2010
While some may see this movie as having a not so subtle undertone of 'the greatness of Christianity', I saw it as an interesting exploration of religion itself. The characters in this movie all differ in their religious views, allowing you to identify with them based on your own religious persuasion. There is the fanatic, the believer, the non believer, the good, the bad, the in between etc.

The plot itself helps this journey, as the characters move from one setting to a vastly different one, all the while suffering the same basic experiences. Their initial motivations, in addition to their reactions to these experiences, all differ along the lines of their beliefs, and help either strengthen or weaken those beliefs. This movie shows quite well, that people's attitudes to religion have not changed in hundreds of years. God is still used to explain things we do not understand, and fear and "miracles" are still used to recruit and keep believers.

Human behaviour also has not changed much. Even faced with the 'black death', one of the worst pandemics in human history, people still found reason to divide and fight amongst themselves assigning blame and punishment rather than band together. The way these themes fit in so appropriately with the medieval setting, makes it all the more surprising that they can still be applied in today's world. All in all, a good movie for open minded people because although the film explores these themes, it makes no conclusion. That is left to the audience to determine who was right, who was justified and who was wrong; who was good and who was evil.
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A Thought-induced, Objective Plague Piece
sharpobject24248 February 2011
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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Demons and Necromancers are among us.
Spikeopath19 June 2012
Black Death is directed by Christopher Smith and written by Dario Poloni. It stars Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, John Lynch, Tim McInnerny, Kimberley Nixon, Andy Nyman, Johnny Harris and Carice van Houten. Music is scored by Christian Henson and cinematography by Sebastian Edschmid.

1348, Year of our Lord, the bubonic plague is ravaging Europe. When word spreads of an isolated community that is plague free, a gang of Gods' soldiers are tasked with seeking it out under the impression it might be a haven to occult dealings. Guiding the group is rookie monk Osmund (Redmayne), who after falling in love with a young girl is conflicted about his faith. He takes the soldiers' request for a guide as a sign to find his true calling, what he and the soldiers find at the end of their journey, however, has far reaching consequences for them all.

Considering it was a limited release in theatres it's a little surprising to find so many have sought it out on home format release. What isn't surprising, given its themes, is how it has polarised opinions. Personally I love it, this in spite of director and writer cribbing from notable Brit movies of our past. Yet even when in the supposed sanctuary of our home during this latest visit to the film it was met with derision from the lady love of my life! After director Smith (Severance/Triangle/Creep) has well and truly pulled the rug from underneath us to tantalisingly leave things ambiguous, he slots in a coda that muddies things still further, simultaneously infuriating another portion of the movie watching populace. I write this because of two reasons, the first is to obviously intrigue potential first time watchers into taking the plunge and giving it a go, the second is to negate the underselling of the movie by its own director!

Somewhere along the way Smith chose to not sell it as a battle between religion and atheism-Christians against Pagans, but went for the more pleasingly medieval men on a mission aspect, which for the first half of the movie it is. Perhaps those sneaky loans from the revered films that have influenced it weighed heavy on the director post the release and critical appraisals? But undeniably it's the second half that carries the thematic thrust. True enough to say that following a chainmail clad Sean Bean and his grungy band of "mercs" traverse the land, fighting off bandits and the plague along the way, is good formulaic fun, but it's when they happen upon the marshy set village, greeted by a ghostly Carice van Houten and a unnervingly smiley Tim McInnerny, that the film really hits its stride. Thus opening up debates as the battle for Osmund's soul truly begins and we are asked just who are the good and bad guys here?

Filmed out in the forests of Saxony Germany, the film looks terrific in the context of the period it is set. The colours are deliberately stripped back and muted, this plague ravaged land, and persons, demand that to be the case. There's some initial annoyance with the "shaky-cam" formula during the more up-tempo sequences, this is something that is becoming a staple requirement by directors of historical pictures, but Smith thankfully doesn't over do it and achieves good atmospheric realism throughout. It's interesting to note that the Pagan villagers are clean and sprightly, while the Christian soldiers are grimy and grotty, life of the medieval soldier was bloody and bloody dirty work . When the excellent Andy Nyman as Dalywag takes a leak up a tree, he merely wipes his newly whetted hand on his tunic, it's little things like this that keep the film in the realm of realism, an awareness of the time indeed. Cast attack the material with good thespian seriousness, with Lynch and Harris scoring well as polar opposite characters in the supporting ranks of Ulric's (Bean) band of not so merry men.

It's not overly gory, Smith choosing (correctly) to let us at times fill in the blanks in our head, while the fight scenes are very well staged (Bean was very pleased with how they turned out). But ultimately it's the themes in the story and period setting that is of the most interest here. What ever side of the fence you sit on as regards religion, or how you feel about humanity being depicted so coarsely, Black Death will get a reaction out of you. 8/10
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Movie Review: 'Black Death'
d_art1 April 2011
Set in 1348, during the time of the first outbreak of the bubonic plague in England, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne), a young monk, is tasked to accompany a determined knight named Ulric (Sean Bean) and a group of mercenary soldiers in learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village, where the plague has not reached. While Osmund sees this as a mercy mission, Ulric believes necromancy is involved and is determined to bring this necromancer to justice. Their journey leads them into various obstacles and darker moments as secrets are unveiled.

Despite its grim mood and subject matter, this film is an entertaining and generally a thought-provoking, medieval horror/thriller. Even with the film's low budget, it is impressive to look at. The misty landscapes, the costumes, the filthy details, and the sets are impressive. Some of the makeup and soundtrack may seem a tad modern, but they are not distracting. While the film is considered a historical horror film, it is also a bit of an action flick, as it has some energetic, gritty swordplay, with some blood and limbs flying off.

The film takes place around the time of the Inquisition when there was much distrust from the Catholic church and the government toward pagans. Ulric is a zealous warrior driven by hatred. He believes he is serving God through the use of his sword against suspected necromancers. Osmund, the monk, on the other hand, believes that in order to love God, one must serve through mercy and love.

There are no characters here that are fully saintly. I felt Eddie Redmayne's performance as Osmund really made this film work. His performance feels genuine and he acts as I would imagine a monk would act and talk, and he is emotionally relatable. As the film progresses, one can appreciate his good range of emotions and acting ability. As for Sean Bean, one can't help but feel he is reprising his role as Boromir from Lord of the Rings. He has the same type of hair. He is wearing medieval armor. Again, he plays that proud, brash character who we know will do something…brash. I would love to see him someday play a real calm, jovial, intellectual character. To the film's credit, Sean Bean gets to stretch a bit as Ulric is not completely two-dimensional and we do get to know more on how he became the type of character that he is. The rest of the cast, who have their own special look and quirk, do a laudable job and work together well.

The action scenes have a good amount of tension and intensity, but the shaky camera effect can be dizzying. There is about one major fight scene, which happens midway into the film. Once the main characters make it to the village, things get a little more surreal and one realizes that this is not necessarily an action film, at least in a conventional sense. I've noticed the characters in the village feel, talk, and look strangely modern. I'm guessing these villagers still farm for a living, but they seem quite clean and manicured.

The script is sharply written, with good detail in the dialogue. The film attempts to explore how extreme situations can turn people into hateful zealots, or a violent fundamentalist. There is a twist at the end, which is interesting, but somewhat hard to swallow. The film doesn't attempt to give any big answers, but it is an interesting exploration of man's dark nature, the cycle of vengeance, and how good people can turn cruel when evil is done on them.

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A Very Dark Tale about The Infamous Plague!
mcdogg6704 February 2011
The story takes place in 1378 during the beginning of the Plague in England. A group of soldiers with the guidance of a young monk, named Osmond, travel to a remote town that has seemed to be free of pestilence. The monk willingly agrees to accompany them to do "the Will of God." However, as they get closer towers their destination he learns of a darker secret that may cause the residents of the town to be free of the sickness.

Black Death is very well-paced and thought provoking. The acting is very well which helps you connect with the characters better. There is a creepy tension throughout the movie and builds up immensely when the group reaches the village. You start to wonder what is really going on and if the residents of the village are as evil as they were told. There is also a great amount of action which is quite brutal. The conflict between Christianity and Witchcraft creates a tense buildup between the soldiers and the villagers. The soldiers are tested on their beliefs and must make tough decisions for their will to survive,

The movie makes you think after you watch it and portrays a historical event in a way that it's never been looked at before.
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warlock_hurt11 October 2015
From the humble beginning to the violent end, this movie was solid gold. Particularly the ending, there are only a few movies out there that leave you questioning your own believe and this movie surely does that.

Obviously built on a tight budget but this movie sure can pack a lot of punch. And the acting performances are truly awesome! Sean Bean was amazing and the lead guy Eddie Redmayne was spot on.

This movie highlights the cruelty of the Black Plague in Europe and all the sinister twists that it took on the mind of the people. I don't usually enjoy period movies but the story is what really kept me hooked on.

The concept of the inquisition and witch hunt are present too. All in all, this movie was truly amazing.
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Finally available in the US
erihixon9 June 2011
So, I had seen information on this movie and really wanted to see it, but it was not available in the US. So I waited a long time. I talked about this with my husband and my father who both want to see this.

It's finally available! TOP of my movie rental queue. And I curl up on my couch with my 17 yo daughter and watch it. It was amazing. Well acted, good story, gritty, historically placed. The shaking camera thing can be a tad annoying in the beginning but it's not too bad.

At the end of the movie my daughter and I debated the movie. Is it pro-Christianity, pro-paganism, or what is the message of the movie? One thing we both agreed on is that it was thought provoking, dark, real, and we really both enjoyed it. I don't wanna give anything away, any spoilers at all. It's better if you approach this movie with an open mind and interpret it's story as you see it. But it is great.

The actors were all well performed and interesting, but really Sean Bean stole the show.

I wouldn't recommend this if you are looking for something lighthearted or some typical horror flick, but if you are looking for something that will truly engage your mind and rivet your eyes, this is THE movie to see. And that is much more than I ever expected to see.
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biffpeyton22 May 2011
I'm very curious to know if the director has been influenced by the Wernor Herzog movie "Aguire the Wrath of God". There are some strong similarities that really stand out. In fact even one of the actors (the guy with his tongue cut out) looks a lot like Klaus Kinski. The movie is dark and foggy with similar type

jungle feel. The music even has a similar feeling.The journey through the jungle. The strange quest. The rusting armor and long stretches of silence. All that is missing is Natasia.

I enjoyed this movie on many levels. Sean Bean is as always, fantastic. All the acting is steller. No B movie this although from the title you would

think it would be.
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Superb with mixed feelings
erik-osolin24 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What is right and what is wrong ? Who was "good" and who was "bad" ? Is there a god ? Or devil ? Or no one ? Or both ? After seeing a movie you will not be able to find the answers to above questions for sure. According to medieval knowledge about diseases this scenario could have been possible. There are many lessons to learn in the movie corroborated with many sociological perspectives, however they remain untold clearly and could be interpreted in many ways, each of us has its own view. In a religious or a non-religious way. Acting is super, Tim McInnerny and Sean Bean are great, also the rest of the crew follows and keeps the audience convinced at all times. Atmoshpere is (I guess) reflecting our present perception of "medieval", no special effects were used for that besides interesting camera angles, but this will not be disappointing but rather encouraging. I highly recommend this movie, it has something ... special.
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A good attempt
cartidge5 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Set in the 14th century during the height of the plague, Black Death follows the story of Osmund, a young monk torn between his love for a young woman named Averill and his duty to God.

At the beginning of the film Osmund sends Averill away from the plague infested town in which his monetary is housed, and promises to meet her at a pre-arranged location in the near future. Shortly after a knight named Ulric, played by Sean Bean, arrives with a group of fellow soldiers on a special mission ordered by the bishop. Ulric tells the monks that there have been reports of a village that has escaped the ravages of the plague and that witchcraft has been suspected in its preservation. Ulric requests that one of the monks guide the soldiers to the village, so that they may investigate the situation.

Osmund, seeing his opportunity to reach Averill, volunteers to accompany the soldiers to the village, and so his journey begins. Osmund guides the soldiers to nearby the meeting place he and Averill had previously arranged, and they make camp. Osmund uses the opportunity to sneak away to meet Averill only to discover bloody rags, and a group of bandits, remaining. Osmund then makes a hasty retreat back to camp where he awakes the soldiers who then proceed to kill the bandits. Distraught with the loss of Avrill Osmund continues to guide the soldiers to the village, where not everything is as it would first appear...

The film contains strong performances from Sean Bean, Carice van Houten, Davis Warner and Tim McInnerny. McInnerny, of course famed for his roles playing upper class buffoons in televisions such as Blackadder, was highly believable in his portrayal of a very different type of character and that was gratifying.

In terms of both the visual look, and in terms of ambiance, the film was also very good. The graphic depiction of the plague, in addition to the desolated environment, set against the relatively lush scene of the un-ravaged village, really aided the haunting atmosphere the film attempted to invoke. The violence and misery of life during the period was also not a subject that the film shied away from, and in places verged towards being perhaps too brutal.

The major down point for this film was Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Osmund, a role he didn't really seem to get to grips with until the final scenes of the film. Another problem was the pace of the film, despite not being very long, consisting of only 102 minutes, the film seemed to drag and last far longer.

But those issues aside, I enjoyed the film.
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I was impressed!
yellowstonecouple13 March 2014
After reading some of the reviews and getting this flick from the $5 bin at Walmart, I really expected it to be rather subpar. But since it starred Sean Bean, I figured I give it a try. I have to admit I was impressed. It had a great story line and plot, with a creepy and very unexpected twist ending. I was amazed they could fit so much story into an hour and a half. I was absolutely glued to the TV within the first couple of minutes and the fast pace continued to get me more and more hooked. Especially once they entered the village.

The acting was perfect. Especially considering how difficult to get good character development in a shorter film with lots of important characters.

Please understand that this film is rated "R" for a reason. It is quite bloody with gory sound effects galore. NOT for the faint of heart. (I'm pretty squeamish with that sort of thing, so I always appreciate a warning as to the degree of gore, so I just thought I'd give one.)

(Just a quick note, I'm not a film or theater major. I'm just an average gal who loves movies. So, my review may be a bit simplistic compared to others.)
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A crude tale of human nature
miss_deth_addict27 January 2011
Don't let the religious background of this movie put you off, this movie isn't about god and evil this movie is a sad exploration of human nature about one's need to force its beliefs upon others, about how far guilt and grief can take someone. This is a good brutally realistic human drama set in the time of the bubonic plague. Very well developed characters no 1 dimension personality in that one Dario Poloni did a good job. Regarding the aspect of the time set of the movie it is also very well done. An overall good movie great directing (not that one would expect anything less from Christopher Smith) but sometimes the picture was a bit shaky which kinda bothered me.
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The Horror of the Superstitious Dark Ages
claudio_carvalho8 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
In 1348, year of our Lord, England is devastated by the Bubonic plague that spreads death in the lands and villages. The young monk Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) asks his beloved Averill (Kimberley Nixon) to travel to a remote village after the Dentwich Forest where the Black Death has not reached yet. She tells that she will wait for him in the forest, but Osmund tells that he will stay in the Staveley Monastery since he is a man of God. However, the emissary of the bishop Ulric (Sean Bean) arrives in the monastery recruiting a religious man to guide his soldiers and him through the forest and the swamp to the village. They believe that there is a necromancer resurrecting people and protecting the village from the plague. Along their journey, they fight against forest thieves and Osmund finds Averill's clothes dirty of blood. When they reach the village, they find happy and healthy villagers that have renounced God living in peace, and they are welcomed by the leaders Hob (Tim McInnerny) and the alchemist Langiva (Carice van Houten). She shows Osmund the dead body of Averill that they have found in the woods. However, during the night, Langiva brings Averill back to life and Osmund tries to warn Ulric and his men. But they have already been drugged and sooner they have to renounce God to survive.

"Black Death" is a great film the depicts the horror of the superstitious Dark Ages. The story recalls the 1973 "Wicker Man" in the environment of the Middle Ages. Christopher Smith maybe is the most promising director of the young generation. His previous movies ("Creep", "Severance" and "Triangle") shows that he is improving his work. This intriguing and violent story of religion, faith, superstitious, ignorance and fanaticism has a magnificent screenplay that only reveals the consistent truth in the very end and is supported by top-notch performances. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Morte Negra" ("Black Death")
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This movie deserves more credit
bquick9419 March 2018
A masterpiece. Dark, gritty af, great characters, great action, freaky, gripping, every scene is well done. Ignore the simple minds who have given low ratings, what insults their opinions are.
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A Very Good Medieval Horror
Rainey-Dawn30 October 2016
I love this style of horror film: slowly building suspense, subtle horror and a great story with lots of great atmosphere. Black Death is a medieval adventure horror that has very bleak aura with a very good story. I really love the medieval eye-candy (costumes and sets), cinematography, and just everything about the film! That is saying a lot because I am not into most modern day horror films but this film is one of rare gems in modern day horror movies. It's outstanding.

All of the actors are superior! I have to say that Sean Bean is Boromir err Ulrich I mean. He's fantastic in these types of roles. Eddie Redmayne is fantastic in his role as Osmund the monk and John Lynch as Wolfstan is just as good! Just everyone in this film has done an outstanding job - very convincing performances.

This is a hidden gem in a sea of modern day muck movies. I highly enjoyed this film and would love watch it over and over again.

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Great cast gives even better performance in this haunting tale
mitchel_vaneeden31 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm from Holland, and we are not known for our great history of actors, let alone the Dutch cinema. Some of you might know Paul Verhoeven, Rutger Hauer and Black Book...but that's about it. So when a Dutch actor or actress makes his or her way to Hollywood (although some of the Americans despise Hollywood, in Holland it's still Mecca for movies), it's of national importance. Carice van Houten is our latest Dutch acting jewel who made her way to Hollywood with movies like Black Book, Valkyrie, Repo Men and the recent Black Death. She is a major reason why I'm writing this review.

In this review I would like to point out some good and some weaker elements in this movie. I will not give a summary of the plot, I'll just give my view on some things. So I know a lot of things will not be addressed in this review, sorry for that, just wanted to share some things with you.


After watching this movie I could only think of one thing: this is a great piece of cinema! First of all the cast is very well selected. Eddie Redmayne and Sean Bean share the lead and they are both very strong characters. Redmayne impresses with his performance as a boyish monk who transforms in a hardened revenge seeker during the movie, due to the fact that he is torn between his dedication to the church and his forbidden love for a girl. Bean is good, as he always is in my opinion. Watching Bean was like watching a Christian version of Boromir, brainwashed by faith and dedicated to his goal.

And then there was Carice...

Stunningly beautiful, enchanting and mysterious, both lovable and scary and....well I can continue like this. She was just good, just so good.

Furthermore, the plot is a very strong element of this movie as well. Unpredictable and exciting, but always keeps your attention until the final narrative. Great setting as well, I thought it was shot in UK somewhere, maybe Ireland, but I didn't expect this movie to be shot in Germany! Kudo's for Germany...


I thing BAD is a strong expression and does not really apply to anything concerning this movie. Although I have some mixed feelings about the underlying theme: the question whether there is a God or not and how to deal with religion in times of the plague. My major concern with this theme in this movie is that at the end, there is no real statement about what's right and what's wrong, or who was right and who was wrong.

For instance: our Christian crusaders slaughter everybody who is against their faith in name of the Bishop (or God, or the Church, or Christianity), so to say that these crusaders are lovable not really. Than the village-people, who seem to be nice at first, but the more intelligent viewer will conclude that they are not what they seem at all. After they show their real nature, they are not that lovable as well. Even the holy monk turns out to be a bad- ass revenge seeker at the end!

Conclusion: God and Christianity suck big times (concerning our knowledge of the Middle Ages we already knew that), atheists suck as well (the sad thing is, in real life, most Americans will agree on this one) and even a man from God himself is not trustworthy.

The end of the movie does justice to it's title: this is a very BLACK movie.

All in all this is a movie you must see. Very interesting and intriguing on many levels, with a good plot, great setting and even better actors!
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The pestilence is coming
freemantle_uk6 March 2011
The Black Death is a very interesting aspect of history, a plague that killed a third of Europe's population, had a massive social impact during and after the event (e.g. the Peasant's Revolt), an economic impact leading to people becoming wealthy and owning more land and lead to a change in art afterwards. So it is a surprise that this subject has not been look at more often in film and literature. Director Christopher Smith has taken on the challenge.

In 1348 the Black Death is at it's high in England. With people dying all around, a young monk, Osmond (Eddie Redmayne) tells his secret lover, Averill (Kimberley Nixon) to hide in the forest where she said she would wait for one week. At the same time a knight, Ulric (Sean Bean looking like he has just walk in from the set of Lord of the Rings), tells the monastery of a village that has avoided the pestilence by turning their back on God and bringing the dead back to live. Osmond volunteers to be the knights guild, working for his own selfish reasons. As they travel through the infested lands of England and seeing the impact of the plague on society, the group of men end up in a weirdly blissful village led by Langiva (Carice van Houten).

Early on in Black Death the film is interesting at seeing how the Black Death affected people, from the rise of the Flagellants, a group of Christian extremists who believed that they need to show their love for God to avoid the by self-harming and hoped God would forgive them. There was the massive impact of death in the countryside and that the wilds of Medieval Europe was like the Wild West, where bandits lived in the woods. Smith was not afraid to show that Medieval battles, even on a small scale were very bloody and men being ruthless. It was a scene that looked like the filmmakers enjoyed making. I did also enjoy the more natural elements of horror, from the eerie, near paradise like world the village seemed. Black Death also has a twisted ending.

The costumes themselves do not look that believable, with Bean looking like Boromir from Lord of the Rings and the weapons look like there are from a cartoon or a pantomime film. This is not the most realistic depiction of the Medieval era. Also after a very fast start in the first 30 minutes, the quest elements grinds to a halt when they go to the village. The film does not have the strongest narrative ever and it is a basically a B-Movie.

The acting is fine and there is a constant theme about faith, about how people were willing to break and use it: whether it was Osmond who had a forbidden affair or Langiva who uses miracles or the church willingness to torture people. Bean is normally good in any thing he is in and offer gravitas to the film. Ms. Van Houten is a strong actress who does pull off a good English accent. Tim McInnerny is subtle and sinister as a character called Hob who on the surface is softly spoken and a seemingly nice guy, but harbours a dark, ruthless edge. Even more remarkable because he is known for being a comic actor. Redmayne was okay as the lead but did have a good relationship with John Lynch who was a interesting enough character as Ulric's number two.

On a final note, there were many critics in Britain who fell in love with this film and gave it four star reviews. Personally I don't know what they were smoking but at most Black Death is a 3 out of 5; there were good moments, but overall it is not a great film and properly will not be remembered that much.

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Entertaining enough and infuriatingly provocative
anakowi16 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Overall I was entertained by Black Death and would watch it again (at some stage). I'm a harsh critic - so there were quite a few aspects that annoyed me about the storyline and character portrayals. Here are my reasons.

The good and bad in production: The production details and casting of many of main characters were visually good and helped to immerse me in the story. The sets were great. But... tweezed eyebrows always look wrong on the pretty young things in medieval flicks. The level of violence I suppose was realistic and as far as that goes "creative" although the a little too graphic for my liking as I'm not overly fond of hiding behind my fingers while trying to watch a movie.

The good and bad in the provocative storyline: As an atheist studying theology I certainly didn't find this movie to be about Christianity triumphing over paganism. It was heading that way towards the climax but then suddenly that tacked on ending with narrative that was hell-bent on making a statement about trauma causing people to view the world with hideous distortion in the name of Christianity - as though it were an excuse. Equally trite was van Houten's explanation for actions and events - her portrayal (or the director's) was terribly flat for such a character. Witch, necromancer, whatever... woman! She surely would have an abyss of attitude for facial expression.

I had to ask at the end of this movie, "what on earth is the point?" I hope the writer/director were just wanting to do a period piece with gratuitous violence and a bit of moral ambiguity for titillation and sensationalism. That so many reviews commented on the theological reference is too disturbing.
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Pyramus and Thisbe - Osmund and Averill
guifig-gf11 May 2015
The film can be considered a horror from the beginning to the end, it's worth check the performance of Eddie and Sean Bean, whom managed to engage their roles with a lot of emotion, realism, and truth.

The soul of the film emanates from the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe witch are a pair of ill-fated lovers whose story forms part of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The story has since been retold by many authors.

In Ovidian tale, Pyramus and Thisbe are two young lovers, unable to stay together for social issues, however the power of love makes they plan an escape to live together the rest of their lives. Thisbe planned with Pyramus that they would flee to a distant monument far from the city, Into the woods, called Ninu's Tomb, and there they would wait for the other and than flee together. Thisbe was the first to get there, and she was waiting for Pyramus until she saw a lioness with a bloody mouth, scared, she ran into a cave to hide, and on the trail dropped her veil. The lioness seeing the veil on the ground, laid with its mouth bloodied on it, smearing the veil with blood of a prey. Pyramus when reached the Ninu's Tomb moments later, didn't found Thisbe, but saw the footprints of the lioness and the bloody veil of Thisbe on the ground. When he found the veil, he believed that Thisbe was killed because of his late, and after crying over her veil, committed suicide.

The film is exactly the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe with their intermediate characters, and a little modifications.

In The Film:

Pyramus and Thisbe are also separated by a social matter, Pyramus (Osmund) is a monk, and according to his votes could not fall in love with a woman (Thisbe - or Averill)

Both plan to find in the woods, on a monument called Cross of the Martyrs in Dentwich forest, which symbolizes the Nilu's Tomb.

Warriors on behalf of the Bishop are intermediates in history as well as the village and the Necromancer.

When Osmund reaches the place where they planned to meet, also finds Averill veil bloodied, and footprints and marks of fight on the ground.

Wild looters who attacked Averill symbolize the Leone.

The suicide of Pyramus is symbolized with Osmund identity loss, which in the film has an uncertain end, but it is clear that it is no longer the same.

A work that everyone should check out and enjoy the horrors of the Middle Ages, all the dirt, ignorance, lack of infrastructure, and dependence of the church in the existentialist ideal.

The film makes clear how a misunderstood religion, whatever it is, causes terrible tragedies in which the protagonist is the man by itself.
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In the Shadow of the Black Death
ksj87028 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Scarcely seen in the United States and released on home video to little fanfare, Black Death is one of those underrated films that for whatever reason never amounts to more than a tiny blip on the radar of the movie world, but whose merits offer a rewarding experience to those who do find it. In many ways Black Death is an alternate take on the same story told in Season of the Witch, the Nicolas Cage feature released earlier this year. Like that film, Black Death's story takes place in the Middle Ages amidst the ravages of the bubonic plague. And as with Season of the Witch, the greatest terrors encountered in Black Death lurk within the human heart.

As the ruthless plague kills indiscriminately outside the walls of his monastery—and sometimes within it as well—the young monk Osmund finds his faith wavering. Torn between his unyielding vows to God and his love for the lovely Averill, Osmund prays fervently for a sign. When a knight arrives as the monastery's doorstep in search of a guide into unknown territory, Osmund believes his prayer has been answered. Ulrich, the bishop's personal envoy, is leading his men in search of a village where the plague supposedly does not afflict. It is said the village is home to witches and devils, and Ulrich is determined to find the truth. Osmund, against the wishes of his abbot, agrees to lead Ulrich to what he seeks, fearing that whatever the young man finds out there waiting for him, it will change him forever. But Osmund is desperate to discover his destiny, no matter the price. And so begins a journey deep into a dark, blighted wilderness, where superstition and religion mingle in benighted forests and the line between faith and madness blends seamlessly together.

Black Death is thoughtfully written, carefully directed, and realistically performed. There is some action, and likewise a few scenes of torture and not a few moments of white-knuckle suspense, but unlike Season of the Witch it is not really an action film. Black Death's delicately unfolding plot mines several rich, dark veins of human thought, particularly the nature of humanity and how we as fragile, and very sinful, individuals live out the ideals of our religion in a world of chaos and inexplicable suffering. The eternal struggle between Christianity and paganism is played out in an artful, uncompromising little epic that is as terrifying as it is heartbreaking, as is the undying war within the human heart between good and evil. Directed by Christopher Smith and starring stalwart veteran actor Sean Bean as the crusading Ulrich, Eddie Redmayne as the confused Osmund and Carice van Houten as a woman who may be the worst sort of witch, Black Death is a startlingly effective film on all counts. Unlike Season of the Witch, Black Death leaves many questions unanswered, and the plot is nothing if not ambiguous. But it is the thoughtfulness of its mysterious story, and that which it inspires in the viewer, that makes it such an excellent film.
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Impressive but brutal medieval film
MattyGibbs21 April 2013
This is an atmospheric and well told story. The film is based during the period of the Black Death in England and is well shot and a lot of attention to detail has obviously gone into it for in stance unlike some glossy Hollywood epics set in the Middle Ages no-one has pearly white teeth. Although only touched upon relatively briefly I liked the way it showed the symptoms of Black Death.

The story is pretty straightforward and easy to follow (always a good thing)and the acting is good and consistent from a strong cast. I am not always convinced by Sean Bean who I find either very good or very poor but this is one of his most impressive performances.

The fight scenes are realistic and well staged and there are plenty of surprising moments that you don't expect which is to be applauded. It is at times very brutal and there are a few stomach churning moments though these are mainly kept off camera.

Although I have enjoyed both the other Christopher Smith films I have seen ( Severance and Creep) I wasn't expecting this to be quite as enjoyable as I found it to be. A nice surprise which is well worth watching.
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