Black Death

Nothing heralds spring like a plague-and-pestilence movie, and Black Death has the suppuration and body count to fit the bill. Thankfully, it’s also a fairly nuanced meditation on the subjectivity of blind faith and its attendant brutality. The story concerns a novice monk (Eddie Redmayne) in medieval Europe who joins a group of knights sent by the church to find a remote village rumored to be immune to the plague. There’s also talk of a “necromancer” there who resuscitates the dead, whom the brooding leader of the band (Sean Bean) has sworn to kill. Once they arrive, however, the town appears disorientingly idyllic, and its high priestess (Carice van Houten) is a gracious host who’s also easy on the eyes. It’s no surprise that things aren’t exactly as they seem. The movie provides enough sword-and-sorcery hoo-ha to please the Lord of the Rings demographic, but its real coup is in repeatedly shifting our allegiance from Christians to pagans, interrogating the unfathomably still-popular notion that barbarism is best countered with more of the same. (Rated R, 97 minutes, screens at midnight.) MARK HOLCOMB

Fri., March 25; Sat., March 26, 2011

 
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