The Mill and the Cross

2011

The Mill and the Cross

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

79%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 42

64%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 781
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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 unabated: couples entwine, musicians play wind instruments, soldiers torment their enemies mercilessly, and children scurry about. Using sophisticated computer technology, the filmmaker creates a brilliantly complex and fascinating multi-layered dreamscape that melds iconic moments in art, history, and religion with the quotidian lives of ordinary people. -- (C) Kino Lorber

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Critic Reviews for The Mill and the Cross

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (9)

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

    Jun 19, 2013 | Full Review…
  • "The Mill and the Cross" might not be perfect, but it's stimulating, hypnotic and, in its unique way, exciting.

    Jan 19, 2012 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    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."

    Nov 11, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Nov 10, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Oct 20, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • If you see no more than the opening shots, you will never forget them.

    Oct 20, 2011 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Mill and the Cross

  • Jul 29, 2014
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 25, 2013
    <b>Where, oh God, do I begin? Please, give me Thy grace, for this humble review shalt be for Thou.</b> Attention, readers, because we may be witnessing the absolute best masterpiece of 2011, and the most artistically visionary project of the whole decade and since 1979. Please refer to <a href = "http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/Pieter_Bruegel_d._%C3%84._007.jpg">this masterwork</a> before proceeding any further. <i>The Procession to Calvary</i> is a 1564 painting by the Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The intention of the painting, beyond showing Bruegel's constant evolution in his naturalism and in his domain over landscapes and characters, was to contrast earthly life against God's Almighty presence. <b>The Mill</b>: The controller of time and motion; the machinery rising high above everybody that dictates when human action and Nature itself should be moving, and when should they be standing still. <b>The Miller</b>: God's "replacement". He has control of the mill, and therefore has control over the responsibility of time and motion. <b>The Town</b>: Located on the left side. It represents the Circle of Life. <b>The Execution</b>: Located on the right side. It represents the Circle of Death, as it conglomerates people wanting to witness the execution "like flies". <b>The Tree</b>: Located on the left side. It represents The Tree of Life, next to the town, covered with fresh leafs. <b>The Wheel</b>: Located on the right side, at the top of the wooden post. It represents the Tree of Death, as it once was the resting place of a wheelified man. A crow stands on top of it, after having a feast with fresh and dead human flesh. <b>Simon</b>: Located steps behind Christ and his Cross. He attracts the attention of the people as he is forced out and drawn from his wife in order to assist Christ. <b>The Mother of God</b>: Located on the botton right side, at the top of a rocky terrain. Disconsolate and helpless,she is assisted during her grief. <b>Jesus Christ</b>: The most important character in the painting. Located on the center, but still ignored by the people, it is the heart and core of the painting, but He was given a lack of attention for you to wonder through the painting until you discover Christ in the middle of all things, because you missed appreciating Him before. <b>Lech Majewski</b>: Director of the film, music composer and, now, a visionary artist. <i>The Mill and the Cross</i> is a stupendous homage to a now forgotten and underappreciated art form: painting. Reminding us that cinema is poetry in motion, the film understands the honor of capturing all of the anecdotes, lives, breathing creatures, stunning landscapes, kids laughing... Interiors and exteriors... Lust and love... The creative process... The duality of Divinity and the human condition... The pact between the Miller as God's replacement and the artist that is in control of everything. The painter commands, God obeys and stops time, the painter reflects on what has been done so far, the painter commands again, life reassumes its course. Stylistically, this very important contemporary celluloid contribution employs the omniscient narrative structure of Tarkovsky's <i>Zerkalo</i> (1975) and the colorful and visual dynamics of Jancsó's <i>Szerelmem, Elektra</i> (1974), two of the best feature films ever made. Majewski, still, applies his own signature and conquers spaces with the most expertly crafted camera movement, making his own artistic observations and closing with a Raoul Ruiz fashion, employing a shot reminiscent of <i>L'hypothèse du tableau volé</i> (1978) and giving proper credit to the original source of art like Tarkovsky did in <i>Andrey Rublyov</i> (1966), the original painting, now resting in the great halls of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. 98/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 23, 2012
    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
  • Oct 20, 2011
    Its most comparable with the first act of Stephen Sondheim's musical 'Sunday in the Park with George', where we meet the characters in a famous painting and see how they relate to the artist who created them. Here, the film is more concerned with the inner mechanics of the world of the painting rather than the people in it. The film is good, but falls short of achieving greatness because the idea is clear far beyond the ending. Once all the characters are gathered and the painting is achieved, everything that occurs after is essentially unnecessary.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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