The Mill and the Cross

March 18th, 2011







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more trailers The Mill and the Cross

The Mill and the CrossThe Mill and the CrossStill of Rutger Hauer in The Mill and the CrossStill of Lech Majewski in The Mill and the Cross

Plot
Behind every great painting lies an even greater story

Release Year: 2011

Rating: 6.9/10 (974 voted)

Critic's Score: 80/100

Director: Lech Majewski

Stars: Rutger Hauer, Charlotte Rampling, Michael York

Writers: Michael Francis Gibson, Lech Majewski

Cast:
Rutger Hauer - Pieter Bruegel
Charlotte Rampling - Mary
Michael York - Nicolaes Jonghelinck
Joanna Litwin - Marijken Bruegel
Dorota Lis - Saskia Jonghelinck
Oskar Huliczka - Musician playing a horn
Marian Makula - Miller

Taglines: Behind every great painting lies an even greater story



Details

Official Website: Official site | Official site [Japan] |

Release Date: 18 March 2011

Filming Locations: Debno, Malopolskie, Poland

Opening Weekend: $11,354 (USA) (18 September 2011) (1 Screen)

Gross: $310,900 (USA) (5 February 2012)



Technical Specs

Runtime:

Goofs:
Anachronisms: A few minutes before the end of the movie, a red automobile crosses the background between two houses, while Bruegel and Nicholas Jonghelinck are speaking in the foreground.



User Review

A film inside of a painting; Up close and personal with 16th century Flanders

Rating: 8/10

The Mill and the Cross is a movie inside of a painting, specifically The Way to Calvary (1564) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Pieter Bruegel (Rutger Hauer) is the main character in the film which takes turns following him as he decides how his painting will take shape and who will be in it and also follows the local peasants who go about their daily business in middle of 16th century Flanders. The background is always the actual painting's background with the mill high up on a rock looking down on a large field where most of the action occurs.

Bruegel's patron is Nicolaes Jonghelinck (Michael York), a successful Flemish banker who spends his time learning from Bruegel about the people in the painting and what each section represents and also pontificates to nobody in particular about the current state of affairs in Flanders. In 1564, Spain ruled what is now Antwerp and Flanders. The Spanish militia seen in the painting in their red tunics seemed to be preoccupied with chasing down and torturing Protestant heretics. There are gruesome scenes in the film with a man tied to a wagon wheel hoisted up in the air with no defense at all while the birds have at him. A woman's fate is no better as she is shoved alive into an open grave while the red tunics fill the dirt in on top of her.

The Way to Calvary itself does not show these particular atrocities. Instead, it has Jesus in the center hoisting his own cross towards his crucifixion. The exact moment the painting captures is Simon helping him with the cross because Jesus stumbled and fell down. Everyone's eyes are on Simon at this time instead of Jesus. In the foreground is Mary (Charlotte Rampling). She is helpless as she sits on the sidelines because there is nothing she can do to prevent the red tunics from carrying out their mission. The rest of the painting shows hundreds of peasants either watching the proceeding or going about their chores. Children play games on the hillside, a local peddler sells his bread, a horn player dances around, and above them all, the miller observes from his windmill.

The Mill and the Cross is at its best when Bruegel is explaining his inspiration and how he plans to incorporate all of his ideas and scenes into one large landscape. He looks closely at a spider's web to discover where the anchor point on his painting will be and how to section off the rest of the action. Just as intriguing are the scenes of everyday life in 1564 Flanders. A young couple gets out of bed and takes their cow to the field for the day. Bruegel's wife and children wake up after him and get ready for breakfast which is a small slice of bread. The miller and his apprentice ready the mill for the day's tasks and the large wheels and gears moan into action.

Rutger Hauer is excellent as Pieter Bruegel and he appears to be serving his artistic penance to atone for his ridiculous participation in Hobo with a Shotgun earlier this year. Michael York is taking a break from his voice over work and TV appearances to finally show up in a serious film again. Charlotte Rampling is sort of the odd man out here. Her screen time is sparse as Mary and she spends most of the time misty eyed observing all of the peasant movements around her.

The Mill and the Cross is a Polish production directed by Lech Majewski who also aided in adapting the screenplay from a book of the same name by Michael Francis Gibson. The film was an official selection at this year's Sundance Film Festival and will most likely earn an Oscar nod for Best Costume Design. The costumes are remarkable and frequently take center stage over the performers.

The Mill and the Cross is a bit reminiscent of The Girl with a Pearl Earring but instead of showing how the painting is made from the outside, this time, the filmmakers actually take you inside of the painting itself and walks on the same landscape as its subjects. There is little dialogue in the film which is not a problem because it is so absorbing to just sit back and watch the peasants wander around the area and Bruegel figure out how to tie everything together. I will not give it away, but the final shot of the film is as wonderful as the rest as the camera backs up and reveals something to the audience.

If you are a movie patron with patience and an interest in art history, The Mill and the Cross is for you. If you get bored in movies without guns, flash bangs, and screaming, stay away.









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