The Mill and the Cross (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

What would it be like to step inside a great work of art, have it come alive around you, and even observe the artist as he sketches the very reality you are experiencing? Lech Majewski brings to life Pieter Bruegel's masterpiece The Way to Calvary, the story of the crucifixion, setting it in 16th century Flanders under brutal Spanish occupation. Rutger Hauer plays the artist, Michael York his patron, and Charlotte Rampling the Virgin Mary. As epic events unfold, bawdy country living continues … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Michael Francis Gibson, Lech Majewski
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 31, 2012
Box Office: $0.3M
Kino Lorber - Official Site


as Pieter Bruegel

as Nicholas Jonghelinck

as Mrijken Bruegel

as Saskja Jonghelinck

as Wheelified

as Esther

as Horn Player

as Pedro de Erazu

as Rogier de Marke

as Scharmouille

as Miller's Wife
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Mill and the Cross

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (18)

We almost feel that we ourselves have accomplished something just by being around while Bruegel doodled.

Full Review… | June 19, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

"The Mill and the Cross" might not be perfect, but it's stimulating, hypnotic and, in its unique way, exciting.

Full Review… | January 19, 2012
Detroit News
Top Critic

The Mill and the Cross may thrill you. But be prepared for a fight. Twenty minutes in, your companion may throw up his or her arms and complain, "This is like watching a painting dry."

Full Review… | November 11, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

The Mill & the Cross invites us to inhabit a work of art along with the mind of the man who made it and to be enthralled by the images shared in vivid tableaux by visionary Polish director Lech Majewski.

Full Review… | November 10, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

What hangs before us is so striking, beautiful, strange, vast, horrifying, ethereal, lifelike - so alive - that we're desperate to enter the other side of the canvas, to be inside the painting.

Full Review… | October 20, 2011
Boston Globe
Top Critic

If you see no more than the opening shots, you will never forget them.

Full Review… | October 20, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Mill and the Cross


What a truly remarkable accomplishment in terms of jaw-dropping visuals, but the problem is that Cinema is not Painting, and so Majewski is unable to transpose the symbolism of Bruegel's work to the screen without relying on an expository explanation of his intentions.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


This unusual art movie illustrates the story behind Pieter Bruegel's 1564 painting "The Way to Calvary," describing the stories of some of the characters who appear in the sprawling picture, examining Bruegel's strategy in composing the canvas, and sometimes using the actual painting as a backdrop to the action. It's done with love and skill, but honestly, sometimes it's like watching paint dry; this would have been excellent at 1 hour. By playing Bruegel, Rutger Hauer became the first actor in history to portray a 16th Century Flemish painter and a hobo with a shotgun in the same year.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

What would it be like to step into a great work of art and experience the lives on the people within? That's the idea behind The Mill and the Cross a languid recreation of "The Way to Calvary, the 1564 masterpiece by Painter Pieter Bruegel. Throughout the film we often see the Flemish renaissance artist painting the scene. But most of the action takes place inside the composition as we observe the community within. It's an interesting concept, beautifully presented, but the sluggish pace is just too lethargic to enjoy.

The notion of transforming a painting into a moving picture is an ambitious idea. Unfortunately there simply isn't enough drama to justify the movie. There's scarcely any dialogue. What little there is, is rather awkward and clumsily spoken. The story merely lies there to be appreciated much as a painting would be. The problem, this isn't a painting, but a film where different rules apply. The entire exercise feels academic. The actual painting currently hangs in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. Indeed it would be much more dramatic to gaze upon the actual artwork for 96 minutes than to watch this boring artistic study. I will admit the movie would make the perfect DVD to sell in the gift shop there, or any art gallery for that matter. As art history, the film is visually incredible, but as a cinematic entertainment, it fails.

Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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