Video

Plague Doctor

Christiana Latham

2015, 01:29 minutes, Colour, English

TAPECODE 953.08

Plague Doctor is an appropriated footage film that speaks about the deeper and darker meaning of the popular children’s rhyme, “Ring around the Rosie”. While most people hear a joyful children’s chant, the song is actually referring to the bubonic plague that infected Europe during the 14th century.

“Rosie” rashes and excessive sneezing were known symptoms of the plague. “A pocket full of posies” spoke about the flowers that were carried by those infected with the disease, to warn others of the plague. The posies were also carried to cover up the odour that was emitted by plague carriers. The line, “we all fall down” tends to speak for itself.

The plague was brought to Europe from fleas on rats, which were aboard merchant ships. The masks worn by doctors that were treating the plague often had beaks full of aromatic contents to keep the dreadful smell of the disease to a minimum. Thus, the presence of rats, the plague doctor, and posies are recurring themes throughout the film.

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