Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 epic masterpiece, The Procession to Calvary, portrays Jesus staggering to his crucifixion, lost in a panoramic landscape crowded with hundreds of villagers and red-caped horsemen. In depicting Jesus’ plight as one among many vignettes, while soldiers on horseback loom threateningly, Bruegel boldly transposes Christ’s passion and death to sixteenth-century Flanders—a time when the Belgian people were suffering terribly under brutal Spanish occupation.
Now one of Poland’s most adventurous and inspired filmmakers, Lech Majewski, translates The Procession to Calvary into cinema, mischievously inviting the viewer to live inside the aesthetic universe of the painting as we watch it being created. As various lives unfold within the film frame, Bruegel, too, appears as a character, capturing shards of their desperate stories on his canvas-in-the-making.
A vibrant meditation on art and religion as ongoing, layered processes of collective storytelling and reinterpretation, The Mill & the Cross is also a feast of stunning visual effects and a provocative allegory. –Sundance Film Festival
Artist, filmmaker, poet, and stage director; born in Katowice, Poland; graduated from the Łódź Film School in 1977.
In 2011, Lech Majewski completed three years of work on THE MILL & THE CROSS, a film based on Peter Bruegel’s painting “The Way to Calvary”. This unique digital tapestry, composed of layer upon layer of perspective, atmospheric phenomena and people, required patience and imagination as well as the use of new CG technology and 3D effects. Starring Charlotte Rampling, Michael York and Rutger Hauer as Bruegel, the film opened at Sundance Film Festival and was praised by Dennis Harvey in Variety as “an extraordinary imaginative leap; visually ravishing, surprisingly beguiling gamble; immersive experience… remarkable.” and by David D’Arcy in Screen International as “a breakthrough epic film… a revelation that should not be missed.” Since then the film sold to over 50 countries and has taken part in a score of festivals. Based on this intricate film work, Majewski… read more
The excess of derivation, despite being wholly intentional, is a poor artistic acumen, and is the primary downfall of this film. The endeavour to create/recreate the majesty of Pieter Bruegel's paintings is to a large extent lost, due to the laxity of cheap superimpositions and over-reliance on CGI. Despite this, the film does have moments of sumptuous beauty, but sadly this is ersatz painting and ersatz cinema.
Best Picture, Director and Cinematography. Nice showing, too, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Drawing attention to notable reviews as they come in from the festival.
Bruegel brought Christ’s Procession to Calvary to 1564. Majewski returns to the painting bearing 21st century tools.
Title: The Mill and the Cross
Language: English, Spanish
Country: Sweden, Poland
Genre: History, Drama
Director: Lech Majewski
Michael Francis Gibson… read review