The Mill and the Cross is a painting (so not a lot of plot!) come to life and it is unlike any movie I have ever seen before (and I have seen a few)! Directed by Polish filmmaker, Lech Majewski, it is a recreation and interpretation of the famous 1564 painting by Pieter Bruegel, "The Way to Calvary".
Glacially-paced and nearly-silent (at first) ... one film critic (Stephen Cole of "Globe and Mail") said that this film's detractors will likely lament that watching this "is like watching a painting dry" (a point I can understand some having). If it doesn't grab one's interest early-on -- the film's opening is the painting coming to life and than slowly drying back onto the canvas -- there is no point in watching it.
Another film about the inspiration of a painting (that I loved) -- The Girl with the Pearl Earring -- told a possible story of how a Vermeer masterpiece came into being AND each scene was as lovely as a painted picture. Here each scene looks like a painting as well; but this story isn't necessarily one about a "what-if" (although as a film it technically is). Instead, The Mill and the Cross pretends to show us THIS painting (not the inspiration behind it) as it is being painted.
The painting is of the re-imagined crucifixion of Christ in 16th Century Flanders while the region is under BRUTAL Spanish occupation. As Bruegel (Rutger Hauer - Batman Begins, Hobo with a Shotgun, Blade Runner) draws and explains his painting, the scene comes to life so that the audience sees what Bruegel "sees". The premise and style are highly unusual but I appreciated the delicate take (layer-upon-layer of computer imaging) of telling this story.
The Mill and the Cross isn't content with looking at a piece of art -- this film is about experiencing it which is rather marvelous as the Flanders countryside comes to life (and it is as if the audience has stumbled upon the same setting/scene as Bruegel). We get bits and pieces of story but no major plot other than the painting and its scenes/images coming to life.
This wasn't a favorite of mine by any means; but I do like the originality of it and anybody with a serious interest in art might want to check it out.
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