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 really appreciated what Majewski was doing here. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and it perfectly captures the style of Bruegel’s painting. The Mill and the Cross is like no other film I have seen before. Majewski brings Pieter Bruegel’s The Procession to Calvary to life here. I really admire what he did here, but nothing particularly grabbed me outside of the cinematography. He does an incredible job of capturing the little nuances of Bruegel’s masterwork. Majewski doesn’t have anything here to really make you interested. I understand that he was limited do to the fact that homework was adapting a painting into a film, but this has no drama whatsoever, which made me grow a bit restless in the latter half of the film.
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…
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 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…
expedient preview at 5th ave with mitchell. rather gorgeous 35mm print.
35mm at 5th Ave (Shannon's pick). With Chris and an audience. Dreamboat style.
Sort of a less lively run at what Pasolini is doing in his Canterbury Tales adaptation, as well as a less smug version of what Roy Andersson is up to. Unfortunately the green screen was too jarring for this fella, and despite what his Wikipedia says, writer/director Lech Majewski doesn't seem like he "speaks fluent and excellent English."
Could definitely be filed under "art house fare that is surprisingly effective stoned" tho.
The movie examines Pieter Bruegel's 1564 painting "The Way to Calvary" inside and out, showing the stories of some of the people in the painting, often with the painting as backdrop or with people digitally inserted into the landscape of the painting, while also examining Bruegel's thoughts and strategies in composing the image.
So much of the film is sans dialog that when someone does speak it feels intrusive. I think the movie might have been better without any exposition.
Really very lovely to look at, though.
Points for its overt conflation of form into content. The painting is the subject of the film, which it formalizes in some effective ways. The landscape is sometimes rendered partially in brush strokes, even as other elements remain live and active. This happens chiefly in the beginning, so when the film shifts largely to CGI to maintain Bruegel's landscape, the artificiality works. The image is flat, like the painter's work, even as it contains a centrifugal perspective. Speaking of which, the spider's web bit was good and well, but it would've worked better had it not been shoehorned into the dialogue. There's so little speaking in the film (to great effect), that often when dialogue enters, it does more harm…
If you've read my older reviews on this film, you know I much I respect it. This year watched it on Good Friday again and while I still think the atmosphere it creates is unparalleled, the way it moralizes and politicalized the crucifixion of Our Lord frustrated me so much that it soured the whole production. A shame.
***EDIT (March 30, 2014)***
Wow! I never would have expected that I'd get anywhere close to 100 likes on this…
Complete list. :-(