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Black Death [Blu-ray] 
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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.
Slowly emerging as one of Britain’s most interesting directors, Christopher Smith follows up his successes with Severance and Triangle by heading back to medieval England. Thus, in Black Death, we meet Sean Bean’s Ulric, a knight who, in conjunction with a monk by the name of Osmund, is off on a mission. That quest? To find a necromancer. However, as you might expect, things don’t go to plan at all.
While the setting may be a change for Smith, his skill behind the camera matures further with Black Death. He’s stretching a low budget here, but you’d be hard pushed to spot that for long periods of the film, as he evokes a dark, unpleasant period of history, and uses it as the basis for a very gritty film. Refusing to hide away from the violence and horrors of the time, it’s engrossing, but not for the faint of heart.
Smith’s cast serve him well, too, with Sean Bean reliable in the lead role. He’s joined by an ensemble that includes Black Book star Carice van Houten, Tim McInnerny and David Warner amongst others, and the ensemble pulls together terrifically well. The end result is a film that comfortably punches above its budgetary weight, and continues an interesting streak of films from its director.
And as you might hope, its qualities are accentuated by its high definition release. The picture quality here is quite excellent, making use of the period setting that Smith recreates. It doesn’t shirk with its active sound mix, either, proving that you don’t need to be a big budget blockbuster to make the most out of a Blu-ray release. Black Death, then, comes happily recommended. --Jon Foster
- Commentary with Director Christopher Smith
- Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary)
- Behind the scenes footage
- Bringing Black Death to Life Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery
- Interviews with cast & crew (including Director Christopher Smith, Producer Jens Meurer, Producer Phil Robertson and Sean Bean)
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Top customer reviews
Additional: Cast includes; Sean Bean, who may or may not die in this; David Warner, who's always worth watching; Carice Van Houten, who is more famous now for 'Game Of Thrones;' and Eddie Redmayne, who has since gone on to win an Oscar. Just thought you'd like to know.
The film does a good job of playing with perceptions of various characters as good or bad as they lose or gain some small moral high ground and, despite a distinct sense that something Wickerish this way comes in this bout of general witchfinding, doesn’t quite go as you expect. Everything ultimately has a logical explanation and, as with Edward Woodward’s ill-fated trip to Summerisle, both sides are equally passionate and sincere in their beliefs, albeit with one notable exception in Carice van Houten (whose accent only slips when she raises her voice) who offers either a supernatural or a rational explanation depending on what gives her more power and creates more fear. Even the ending remains ambiguous, with a vague hope for redemption but an expectation of damnation. It’s all conveyed in a surprisingly simple and straightforward narrative that rarely stops to discuss the heavy stuff but is happy to leave it as subtext as atheists and Christians alike rationalise their descent into violence. While it never quite manages to summon up enough unease to really draw you in enough to become a classic, it’s still quietly ambitious and intriguing enough to keep you hooked and hopefully earn it some small cult status in future years.
A decent extras package on the Blu-ray includes audio commentary, deleted scenes and making of featurette.
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Most recent customer reviews
Amazing atmosphere, good cinematography, solid acting, and an cracking story