The Mill & the Cross

The Mill & the Cross

DVD - 2012
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Uses digial effects and immersive period detail to transport viewers inside Pieter Bruegel's famous 1564 painting, The way to Calvary, where Bruegel himself tours the canvas discussing the various images and the meanings behind them, allowing viewers to experience daily life in turbulent 16th century Flanders.


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May 11, 2017

This is a 2011 Polish-Swedish fantasy-drama directed by Lech Majewski, inspired by Pieter Bruegel the Elder's 1564 painting "The Procession to Calvary" and based on Michael Francis Gibson's book "The Mill and the Cross."
With a series of vignettes depicting everyday peasant life, the film focuses on a dozen of the 500 characters depicted in Bruegel's painting.
The theme of Christ's suffering is set against religious persecution in Flanders in 1564.
It is an interesting cinematic iterpretation of the painting with fantastic visual effects.

Nov 12, 2016

A very interesting film. I love Bruegel's paintings so this was a different way to experience the social and political context of his art work. Makes me glad I did not live during the middle ages in Europe. It was a brutal time.

May 29, 2015

Beautiful photography, great cast, a trivial, adolescent theme. Could have been a contender but it's too slow moving for the pea-brains who might otherwise appreciate the ravens picking the eyes out of corpses and other graphic gratuitous gore.

Dec 31, 2014

Destined to be one of my top 10 films for 2011, this visually stunning meditation on Christ’s passion, complete with political and historical overtones, takes Pieter Bruegel’s richly detailed 16th century painting The Way to Calvary and, quite literally, brings it to life using magnificent hand-painted backdrops, some 21st century technical wizardry and a huge ensemble cast anchored by Rutger Hauer as the artist himself, Charlotte Rampling as the grieving Virgin Mary, and Michael York as Breugel’s wealthy benefactor, a beneficent nobleman disgusted with the corruption he sees around him. Presented with very little dialogue the film relies instead on its powerful imagery to create a feeling of time and place. This is a surreal Flemish countryside of rocky cliffs, solemn windmills and pastel clouds all bathed in the rich buttery light favoured by the Dutch Masters. While the camera moves from one pastoral scene to another over the course of a single day we begin to sense the quotidian rhythm of these rural peasants as they go about the business of living and dying, often stopping in a frozen tableau while Breugel walks among them sketching and explaining the many metaphors to be found in his artwork. As in the original painting Christ’s crucifixion seems lost amongst all the hubbub surrounding him, yet it is this sacrifice which anchors both canvas and film providing the former with a sly social critique and the latter with a grand climax filled with tempests and heavenly wrath (though ending, ironically, with a return to the bucolic splendour of its opening scenes). With The Mill and the Cross Lech Majewski has fashioned a small cinematic masterpiece which deserves to be seen on the big screen.

kevfarley Mar 14, 2014

The 'painterly' lighting is lovely,.. but this exploration of a masterpiece is not interesting enough to sit through for an entire movie ! And there is little explanation about the historical or social context of the original.

Jan 29, 2013

Gorgeous movie directed by Lech Majewski based on a Pieter Bruegel masterpiece, "The Way to the Calvery". Recommend this one!

Aug 24, 2012

A beautiful, and in places disturbing, film. Very artistic, and about artistry. Talks about symbolism in the painting, and uses symbolism to do a version of the passion. Very little dialogue, and a slow and languid pace, which is necessary to follow everything that goes on. Sometimes there is a plot, and sometimes there isn't, and sometimes plots almost collide. Making a film of a book of art history is an ambitious undertaking, but the result is worthwhile.

Apr 10, 2012

This is an unusual documentary. No talking heads, just little narratives about the personalities and objects in this crowded peasant scene by Pieter Breugel the Elder, a Flemish painter from the 16th century. The narratives are not connected. Most of them have no dialogue except for the painter who walks into the painting, the art connaisseur, and a couple of women.

Glencoe_Mike Apr 10, 2012

Gorgeous and meditative, supreme filmmaking.

Apr 07, 2012

The old expression: "As dull as watching paint dry" couldn't be more fitting than when applied to this monumentally boring opus! Viewing this yawner, was akin to what it might have been like watching the old Dutch Master paint-brush his original masterpiece, THE MILL & THE CROSS majestically attempts to recreate an actual painting to film - including transferring the painting's characters and their lives to a plot - that of Jesus' Crucifixion - and liberally interprets the possible motives behind its Grand Master's creation. It fails equally magnificently in its efforts, because there's no sense of urgency anywhere to be found... no dynamic presence of Christ or any of his Disciples, no plot to speak of, other than the dithering of Michael York as a kind of narrator, and the rambling dissertations of Charlotte Rampling playing Mother Mary. Thus, this movie turns out quite uniquely ignoble in the end - and should be so noted! I thought it would be appropriate viewing for this Easter Holiday. I was wrong!


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