From acclaimed filmmaker, Lech Majewski, comes THE MILL AND THE CROSS, a visually inspired re-staging of Pieter Bruegel’s epic 1564 painting ”Way to Calvary”, presented alongside the story of its creation — with Rutger Hauer (Hobo With a Shotgun) as Bruegel, Michael York (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) as his friend and art collector, and Charlotte Rampling (Babylon A.D.) as the inspiration for his Virgin Mary.
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Just saw this film at the Tivoli. Never heard of it and chose it spur-of-the-moment. The best film of its kind I’ve seen since The Tree of Life.Mill is based on a famous painting by Pieter Bruegel called “Way to Calvary,” which depicts the Crucifixion.
The great Rutger Hauer plays Bruegel, Michael York his patron, and York’s wife, Charlotte Rampling, Bruegel’s reference for Mary, Jesus’ mother.
This film seems much longer than its 90 min. running time due to a protracted opening where we are presented with a series of scenes that seem random, mostly scenes of everyday rustic life: a man and his wife eating breakfast in a mill, men chopping down a tree, a man and his wife having a picnic and eating bread, a woman breastfeeding her child, a spider web. This goes on for around 45 mins. and in this time there is almost no dialogue, just lingering images that look like museum paintings. This is the only thing that saves the movie’s first hour, it’s beauty, because there aren’t 2 scenes that fit together logically. Like 2001 or the first Alien feature, this slow pace allows the viewer to appreciate the art of the film. It’s truly a wonder.
Finally, the dialogue comes in with a scene showing Bruegel sitting and all of the disparate scenes together on a canvas. He then provides the context in which to see these various scenes and magically all of the previous scenes makes sense.
From this point, the film plays out to its inevitable outcome. A very good film. Not mainstream. Aside from a couple of very brief torture scenes, there’s absolutely no action to speak of. This is an art film and the number of heads in the theater attested to this. But if you’re looking for a good way to spend 90 mins of your life I can think of no better expenditure of time.