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The Mill and the Cross (2011)

tomatometer

82

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.

audience

64

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 712

My Rating

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

Jan 31, 2012

$0.3M

Kino Lorber - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (41) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (9) | DVD (1)

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

June 19, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop 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."

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop 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.

November 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop 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.

October 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

October 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Mill and the Cross provides a sort of stoner's take on Bruegel's masterpiece, if the stoner happens to be a scholar with expertise in the work of the genius painter.

July 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Both painting and film are brought to vivid, extraordinary life by the power of the artist's will: This is Intelligent Design we can believe in.

April 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Visually, it's a lavish dreamscape. But come prepared. This immersive and mostly nonverbal art tour of history could lead to an evening of regret.

January 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

While there are some interesting visuals, the lack of story and emotion doom this film.

November 14, 2011 Full Review Source: The Scorecard Review
The Scorecard Review

The Mill and the Cross is visually transporting, a painterly undertaking in every sense of the word. It's a neat case of a contemporary art form conveying to an audience what the painting itself might have conveyed to its viewers hundreds of years ago.

November 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

"The Mill and the Cross" is a true cinematic oddity.

November 3, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

It's easy to imagine that some folks will find the film rapturous, but it's equally clear that there are others whom it will drive crazy.

November 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

André Bazin wrote about the mission of art to rescue the world from transience and corruption … I don't know if I've ever seen this idea more resoundingly affirmed.

October 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Christianity Today
Christianity Today

Hauer is OK as Bruegel, but Charlotte Rampling is weird as the painting's Virgin Mary and, in a mostly non-verbal story, she's burdened by some excruciatingly gushy voiceovers .

October 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

The experience of this film is primarily visual-dialogue is sparse and most of the sound is diegetic-which intensifies the impact of Majewski's bold conceit.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Playback:stl
Playback:stl

.. the filmmaker follows twelve of the painting's hundreds of people to impart a historical understanding of how Bruegel condemned Spain's religious persecution in his native Holland by making his Christ contemporary.

October 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

It's not a making-of movie, nor does it tell the story of the individual subjects in the painting. It's also not exactly art imitating life, or art imitating art. It's more like art becoming art.

September 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for The Mill and the Cross

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.
February 23, 2012
366weirdmovies
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.
October 11, 2011
hobster1

Super Reviewer

In "The Mill and The Cross," the day starts like any other, centuries past in Flanders, as people go about their business and the mill which stands over everything begins operations. Children are cared for and animals are tended to. The calm is broken by the Spanish militia who randomly brutally beat a man to death before hoisting his body to the top of a pole while his wife cries out below. Nicolaes Jonghelinck(Michael York), a leading citizen and banker, is angry but is helpless against something that is not an isolated incident, as the Spanish are targeting heretics. So, he commissions a religious painting from Pieter Bruegel(Rutger Hauer) that has a hidden meaning.

On the surface, "The Mill and the Cross" is an interesting blend of art history and European history with a striking visual style, especially in the early internal shot of the mill. However, the idea never fully comes to life, even with Rutger Hauer and Charlotte Rampling present, forgetting that this is supposed to be a motion picture. By comparison, "Rembrandt's J'Accuse" was much more invigorating.
September 26, 2011
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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.
November 10, 2011
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Mühle und das Kreuz (DE)
  • The Mill and the Cross (UK)
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