09 March 2011

Black Death

Directed by: Christopher Smith
Written by: Dario Poloni
Full credits at IMDb

For once, it's not really about the journey—it's the getting there that counts. In Black Death, Christopher Smith's medieval road movie, a rogue's gallery of papally sanctioned Glourious Basterds travel through a bubo-scarred hellscape to a village untouched by plague, either to learn their secret cure or to slaughter them for apostasy. It's a bubonic play stripped of Hollywood gloss, a Season of the Witch corrective, torchlit and bathed in soot and smoke. ("If you don't have smoke, you don't have the right atmosphere," the production designer says in the press notes. "Wherever you went in the Middle Ages, it was smoky.") But it's not just an aesthetic antidote to the movies' Middle Ages banality—it's thematically counteractive as well, bitter with God-bashing venom.

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