Movies that are slightly off.
The Mill and the Cross
Behind every great painting lies an even greater story
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? From Lech Majewski, one of Poland's most acclaimed filmmakers, The Mill and the Cross is a cinematic re-staging of Pieter Bruegel's masterpiece "Procession to Calvary," presented alongside the story of its creation.
Remember the gorgeous, Last Year at Marienbad inspired shots from Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, particularly in the breathtaking prologue? Now imagine a whole film made entirely out of those scenes. Well that movie is Lech Majewski’s The Mill and the Cross, an austere and evocative artwork in motion, literally Pieter Brueghel’s renaissance masterpiece The Procession to Calvary come to life. This is a feast for the eyes bursting with stunning digital wizardry and effective usage of deep focus and CGI. It reminds me of Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching, but far more abstract and experimental in the sense that the artist—a grizzled, imposingly voiced Rutger Hauer as Brueghel—is spirited away into the painting itself, interacting with the figures and directly observing the…
Where, oh God, do I begin? Please, give me Thy grace, for this humble review shalt be for Thou.
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 1978. Please refer to this masterwork before proceeding any further.
The Procession to Calvary 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.
The Mill: The controller of time and motion; the machinery rising high above everybody that dictates when human action…
Part of 30 Countries in 30 Days. Today: Poland!
Now that I'm officially old, I can remember the unease among some critics when Roman Polanski made The Pianist. Although the film got glowing reviews, one element of it caused a little discomfort - the CGI backdrops of the Warsaw ghetto. Was it right to depict such a grave tragedy using the tools of the blockbuster?
That seems rather quaint, now that every historical film has at least a little CGI decorating the edges. But up until fairly recently the cost of the process has meant computer effects can only be deployed as part of a film that, to a greater or lesser extent, can be called 'commercial'. It's only in…
I was introduced to this film over a year ago and knew then that I looked forward to returning. But the question was how long to wait? I didn’t want to rush it. But I also knew that this movie would be the perfect fit for Holy Week. So on Holy Saturday I turned down the lights and pressed play.
I am now more familiar with the painting this film brings to life so effortlessly, particularly its lighting. Its costumes and props are so rough and lived in that their foreign realism shocks us.
The theological and artistic heart of the movie is the intersection of ordinary people’s lives with the cruelty of the world. We see this intersection graphically…
"The mills are alive, with the sound of Bruegel".
Like a spiritual sequel to his "Garden of Earthly Delights", Lech Majewski brings all of his painterly vision to bringing Bruegel's The Way to Calvary to life. No corner of the painting is ignored from a delicate spider's web to an enormous and omniscient mill looking down at the scene below it. This is art-house cinema in the most literal sense and while Rutger Hauer, Charlotte Rampling and Michael York go some way to giving this a narrative, the living painting holds you in its thrall.
If Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon looks like a painting, Lech Majewski’s The Mill and the Cross is the painting itself. As story goes ahead the movie and the painting become one entity and detaching those turns into an impossible thing. The movie tries to tell the story behind the creation of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting, The Procession to Calvary, but soon it turns into a painting and it is as if the whole movie is taking place inside a huge painting. The visual style of this movie is just amazing, the mixture of lights, shadows and colors create a feast for the eyes, one of the greatest, most rewarding and visually…
This is the type of movie where you just need to go with your gut instinct. If an art film that animates a Bruegel painting sounds appealing to you then you might get something out of this - but if it doesn't there's no way in hell that you will. Dutch painting is probably my least favorite section of an encyclopedic art museum; I had no business watching this movie.
Amazing!!! Brueghel from the inside!
Lech Majewski's film "The Mill and the Cross" begins with Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting The Way to Calvary and expands it into a panorama of life in Flanders five hundred years ago. The hundreds of figures on the canvas surround a mill set on a high rocky promontory and each is brought to life in stunning cinematography with principal roles (the artist, his patron, and a Flemish lady who portrays the Madonna) given to Rutger Hauer, Michael York, and Charlotte Rampling.
The film is a meditation on art and metaphysics, suffering and salvation... but it is never remote. The viewer is drawn into the lives of the myriad characters and the look of it is ultra-realistic. This is the…
August 2016 Scavenger Hunt
Task #1: A film featuring Rutger Hauer!
To start off. I have to say that I've never seen a film like The Mill and the Cross ever before. Director Lech Majewski takes the painting "The Procession to Calvary" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and manages to completely transform it into a film, to the point where The Mill and the Cross feels more like a moving painting than a film. And it's simply brilliant!
The Mill and the Cross doesn't really have a plot, apart from showing how Bruegel (played by Rutger Hauer) comes up with the theme and the details of the painting. Sometimes he explains his stylistic choices and their meaning.…
Day 280 of 365 of my year long challenge
Week 40: The Artist's Brush
Inspired by Pieter Bruegel's The Procession to Calvary, The Mill and the Cross reaches into the painting to recreate the lives of the peasants so creatively captured by this master painter.
There is no plot to speak of. Instead, The Mill and the Cross follows dozens of characters found on the canvas as they go about their lives. Slowly panning across various vignettes, The Mill and the Cross lovingly brings to life a past long since forgotten.
What is amazing about this film is that it really does feel like a painting in motion. Mixtures of live action, green screen and recreations of the…
This was pretty unique in a good way.
This film was inspired by Pieter Bruegel the Elder's 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary. I've seen several Easter seasons pass by with this film on my Netflix watch list. This was finally the year . . . and it was well worth the wait!
This production brings to life a number of the characters depicted in the original painting. The unique effect of using 16th century Europe as a backdrop for the passion of Christ gave this film both a fresh and universal relevance.
The striking imagery, sparse narrative, and ominous sound effects added greatly to this production. The overall effect was mesmerizing, a potent addition to my Easter weekend reflections.
Wow, they had pretty crappy music and dancing back then.
The premise of this film is similar to Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sunday in the Park with George" in that it depicts an artist at work creating a well known painting and the events surrounding the contents of the painting. Except, this movie is devoid of music, narrative, and fun. It is so slow and boring that it was quite difficult to watch. There is very minimal dialogue (the few lines of dialogue are these jumbled monologues) and so the story is told much through gestures and lack of action. There is a lot of artificial light that saturates the picture and don't get me wrong--some of the shots are really stunning (kind of in a "Tree of Life" way that's…
***EDIT (March 30, 2014)***
Wow! I never would have expected that I'd get anywhere close to 100 likes on this…
I have tried to limit this list to proper period dramas (no animated features or alternate histories) and arrange them…