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When a Vienna museum guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads that sparks explorations of their lives, the city, and the ways in which works of art reflect and shape the world.
Mary Margaret O'Hara,
It can be said that Lech Majewski's 2011 film depicts "art imitating life, imitating art, imitating life, which also typifies the layer upon layer of meaning and implication to be found in the film. Pieter Bruegel the Elder's 1564 painting "The Way to Calvary" creates the story line for this completely unconventional portrayal of life in the 1600's and Bruegel's technique or the process he may of worked through while creating the painting. Bruegal's painting is much more than a back drop and can almost be seen as a central character, perhaps even a brilliant supporting actor.
As the film weaves in and out of scenes found in the painting, the characters are brought to life portraying their personal reality behind the snippet of time in which they are actually portrayed. In a further layer in the film consider the juxtaposition of good and evil, peasants innocently awaking to begin a day's work, the musicians playing and dancing with merry abandon, contrasted with the whipping and murder of the young husband by the Spaniards. As Bruegel considers the crucifixion scene he actually begins to interact with the painting. He signals to the miller (a euphemism for God) to stop; and as the miller brings the mill (and seemingly life itself) to a standstill the moment is so unsettling as the windmill, looking mysteriously like the cross Christ has suffered on, turns counterclockwise.
The final shot in this lusciously disconcerting film pans out from the painting "The Way to Calvary" as it hangs in Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and leaves one to ponder the art each of us has seen, and the snapshots in time that art depicts. Majewski's brilliant film gives pause to consider the lives lived behind all the images of all the art over the ages, and so much more.
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