Sean Bean loves him some Medieval storytelling. Of most recent history, he is attached to HBO’s Game of Thrones and now getting the lead in the gritty tale of the Bubonic Plague, Black Death, from Magnolia Pictures.
Outside of Monty Python’s Holy Grail, not many cinematic representations of the Black Plague come to mind very easily, and that’s where this film is planning on stepping in (with less British humor and more gore). Here’s the official 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 Osmunds faith in himself and his love for God to the ultimate test.
From what we got in the trailer, you can expect this to be a very gritty representation of the times, with plenty of guts and blood. Fun! Check out the trailer after the jump, and catch the flick in theaters on March 11th
Continue Reading →
This week’s pick is legendary filmmaker and pioneer of balletic death scenes Sam Peckinpah’s 1977 production of Cross of Iron. The film stars James Coburn (in one of his finest performances, and as one of Peckinpah’s go-to-actors) as Sgt. Rolf Steiner, a tough German soldier stationed on the Eastern Front in 1943 as the German army was being pushed back by the advancing Soviets.
Steiner is in command of a small squad who are attached to the main German column who are retreating from the Taman peninsula on the Black Sea coast following the German defeat at Stalingrad (one year earlier), which turned the tide of the war in the east. The story is that of conflict between Steiner and a new company commander Captain Stransky (Maximilian Schell), a Prussian aristocrat who covets the famed Iron Cross which is one of the highest awards given to a German soldier.
Cross of Iron was Peckinpah’s only war film that shows the audience the kind of war that was being fought on the Eastern Front, and that it was the last place a German soldier wanted to go. Steiner (Coburn) is tired of war and has very little respect for those in charge. When Stransky reports to his new commander, Colonel Brandt (played by veteran British actor James Mason), he tells the Colonel that he applied for a transfer from occupied France to the Eastern Front in order to win the Iron Cross.
The Colonel’s adjutant, Captain Kiesel (the great character actor David Warner) who is also sick of war and military politics, scoffs at Stransky and his naive outlook. Steiner is introduced to Stransky who is told of his exploits. Stransky promotes Steiner to Staff Sgt. in order to curry favor. Steiner shows overt contempt and little appreciation for Stransky as a German officer. To Steiner, Stransky is the real enemy with false notions of heroism and bravery.
Continue Reading →