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Plot: The film focuses on a dozen of the 500 characters depicted in Bruegel's painting. The theme of Christ's suffering is set against religious persecution in Flanders in 1564. Runtime: 92 mins Release Date: 18 Mar 2011
Must-see guided tour through Bruegel's picture (by JvH48)
Many thanks to the Rotterdam filmfestival 2011 for screening this guided tour through Christ Carrying the Cross, the painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I learned a lot about the ideas behind it and the way it was set up. Seeing it explained gradually throughout the story, will let me remember it better than reading about it in a book.We also learned a lot about how people lived those days. A special mention should be devoted to the parts where this film demonstrates that life goes on, regardless of politics, war, and religions. We also saw many forgotten customs about bread, threshold <more>
cleaning, and much more that I want to leave as an exercise to the close observer.A dramatic moment at ¾ of the film is where the painter raises his hand, and life comes to a stand still, including the mill on the hill that stops by a hand signal of the miller. It seems no coincidence that the miller very much resembles how our Lord is pictured usually, and also that he oversees the whole panorama from his high position. As soon as he signals the mill to resume working, the whole picture relives from its frozen state.A large part of the audience stayed for the final Q&A. We got much information about the post production effort required to get the colors right, and creating the different layers to get everything in focus. Further, the film maker told he wanted to make a feature film from the start. It was considered a Mission Impossible by the people around him. How wrong they were!All in all, a lot goes on in the film, much more than I could oversee during the screening. Maybe I should try to grasp more of the fine details during a second viewing. I don't think I saw everything that the film makers did put into this production.
I just saw this film as part of the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival in a screening at SFMOMA. What a work of art! A clear labor of love, this layered re-telling of the significance of, and meaning in Pieter Bruegel's masterpiece, "The Way to Calvary" is one of the finest embodiments of a canvas brought to life I have ever seen. Rutger Hauer is Pieter Bruegel, Sir Michael York is his patron, and the mesmerizingly beautiful Charlotte Rampling is the Virgin Mary. The unnamed figures in the painting well over 100 are brought to life, and what a life it must have <more>
been in the 16th Century. Simple and with clear order, yet brutal and harsh. Not only is "The Mill and the Cross" a re-creation of the painting it is 16th Century Flanders as Bruegel saw it . The film also acts as a Passion Play, and given I saw it Easter Weekend it couldn't have seemed more appropriate.
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 <more>
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.
The Mill and the Cross 2011 The Polish film "The Mill and the Cross" was co-written and directed by Lech Majewski It stars Rutger Hauer as Pieter Bruegel, and co-stars Charlotte Rampling and Michael York.The film consists of an attempt to bring to life Bruegel's 1564 painting, "The Procession to Calvary." I have seen this painting in the Kunsthistoriche Museum in Vienna. Once you've seen it, you don't forget it, because it is filled with people and action. Although, in the painting, Jesus has just collapsed under the weight of the cross, so, in a sense, <more>
action has been frozen for a few seconds. The painting is also remarkable for a very strange symbol--a windmill placed high atop a stony crag. In the film, Bruegel explains that the miller looks down from his mill and sees everything that is happening below, just as God looks down from heaven and can see everything. So, the mill and the miller work symbolically. However, in a practical sense, the mill would never be that high on an large, steep, stony crag. If a mill were really in that location, no one could bring the wheat to the mill or take away the flour. The other dominant vertical structure is a cartwheel, raised high on a long pole. This was the device used by the Spanish rulers of the Netherlands to execute and display prisoners. The prisoner was tied to the wheel, and the wheel was hoisted far up in the air. The device prevented anyone from helping the person--if alive--or removing the body. Only the carrion birds could reach the body, which they did, with predictable results.Technology in the 21st Century makes everything possible, so it's no surprise that the painting is reproduced in the film in a real landscape. Sometimes all the figures are frozen, but other times you can see a cow moving or some other action taking place. The special effects are routine by now, but the manner in which they are used is not routine.We really have the sense that we are looking at a landscape, and the artist is putting it down on canvas before our eyes. This is a highly creative way to look at life the way an artist sees it, and then look at the way life is transformed and committed to canvas.We saw this film on the large screen at the excellent Rochester Polish Film Festival. It really will work better in a theater. However, if that's not an option, it's worth seeing on DVD.
The movie begins with the awakening of Renaissance citizens individuals, families or groups who, once clothed and fed, go around their daily business. Young siblings tease each other, woodsmen cut down a tree, a musician plays a tune. It is not long before atrocious violence rears its head : red-coated men grab a young peasant and whip and beat him unmercifully, before tying him to an execution wheel. His despairing wife crawls around the place of execution without obtaining help or solace. Slowly it becomes clear that the characters - violent or peaceful, young or old, bereft or happy - <more>
all share a common bond : they are closely connected to a painting called "The way to Calvary". This painting, celebrated for its deep insight and subtle symbolism, was made by Breughel the Elder.In the painting, Breughel used the passion of Christ in order to explain and examine the horrors of his time, just as he used the horrors of his time in order to explain and examine the passion of Christ. Thus "The mill and the cross" is an exploration of at least three subjects. There's the torture and execution of Jesus Christ, as described by the New Testament ; there's the painting made by Breughel ; and there's the life of the painter, who was unlucky enough to live through some VERY interesting times, complete with war, tyranny, doctrinal schism and religious violence. In lesser hands this could have meant a complete muddle, but the movie succeeds in combining all of these elements into a cohesive and harmonious whole. The movie is a feast for the eyes, thanks to a very innovative combination of computer-generated effects, painted backgrounds and hand-picked locations. The costumes too are superb. But it is first and foremost a meditation on religious, theological and moral themes. Which is as it should be...I recommend the movie to everyone, even to readers who are not Catholic or Christian. The movie touches upon universal themes, such as the nature of Mankind's seemingly eternal capacity for mischief. It is not a coincidence that some of the worst enormities are committed by followers of what is supposed to be a religion of peace and unity. However, I would like to give you one advice and that is not to watch the movie in the company of a professional art historian. Breughel lived a long time ago and his work was drenched in a very subtle symbolism, meaning that it can be analyzed and reviewed "ad vitam aeternam". You, dear reader, don't want to hear a continuous comment on the 1001 alternative interpretations of the yellow frock on the left or the little dog on the right...
A film inside of a painting; Up close and personal with 16th century Flanders (by chaz-28)
The Mill and the Cross is a movie inside of a painting, specifically The Way to Calvary 1564 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Pieter Bruegel Rutger Hauer is the main character in the film which takes turns following him as he decides how his painting will take shape and who will be in it and also follows the local peasants who go about their daily business in middle of 16th century Flanders. The background is always the actual painting's background with the mill high up on a rock looking down on a large field where most of the action occurs.Bruegel's patron is Nicolaes Jonghelinck <more>
Michael York , a successful Flemish banker who spends his time learning from Bruegel about the people in the painting and what each section represents and also pontificates to nobody in particular about the current state of affairs in Flanders. In 1564, Spain ruled what is now Antwerp and Flanders. The Spanish militia seen in the painting in their red tunics seemed to be preoccupied with chasing down and torturing Protestant heretics. There are gruesome scenes in the film with a man tied to a wagon wheel hoisted up in the air with no defense at all while the birds have at him. A woman's fate is no better as she is shoved alive into an open grave while the red tunics fill the dirt in on top of her.The Way to Calvary itself does not show these particular atrocities. Instead, it has Jesus in the center hoisting his own cross towards his crucifixion. The exact moment the painting captures is Simon helping him with the cross because Jesus stumbled and fell down. Everyone's eyes are on Simon at this time instead of Jesus. In the foreground is Mary Charlotte Rampling . She is helpless as she sits on the sidelines because there is nothing she can do to prevent the red tunics from carrying out their mission. The rest of the painting shows hundreds of peasants either watching the proceeding or going about their chores. Children play games on the hillside, a local peddler sells his bread, a horn player dances around, and above them all, the miller observes from his windmill.The Mill and the Cross is at its best when Bruegel is explaining his inspiration and how he plans to incorporate all of his ideas and scenes into one large landscape. He looks closely at a spider's web to discover where the anchor point on his painting will be and how to section off the rest of the action. Just as intriguing are the scenes of everyday life in 1564 Flanders. A young couple gets out of bed and takes their cow to the field for the day. Bruegel's wife and children wake up after him and get ready for breakfast which is a small slice of bread. The miller and his apprentice ready the mill for the day's tasks and the large wheels and gears moan into action.Rutger Hauer is excellent as Pieter Bruegel and he appears to be serving his artistic penance to atone for his ridiculous participation in Hobo with a Shotgun earlier this year. Michael York is taking a break from his voice over work and TV appearances to finally show up in a serious film again. Charlotte Rampling is sort of the odd man out here. Her screen time is sparse as Mary and she spends most of the time misty eyed observing all of the peasant movements around her.The Mill and the Cross is a Polish production directed by Lech Majewski who also aided in adapting the screenplay from a book of the same name by Michael Francis Gibson. The film was an official selection at this year's Sundance Film Festival and will most likely earn an Oscar nod for Best Costume Design. The costumes are remarkable and frequently take center stage over the performers.The Mill and the Cross is a bit reminiscent of The Girl with a Pearl Earring but instead of showing how the painting is made from the outside, this time, the filmmakers actually take you inside of the painting itself and walks on the same landscape as its subjects. There is little dialogue in the film which is not a problem because it is so absorbing to just sit back and watch the peasants wander around the area and Bruegel figure out how to tie everything together. I will not give it away, but the final shot of the film is as wonderful as the rest as the camera backs up and reveals something to the audience.If you are a movie patron with patience and an interest in art history, The Mill and the Cross is for you. If you get bored in movies without guns, flash bangs, and screaming, stay away.
The story of Peter Bruegel the Elder's conceiving and rendering his1564 painting The Procession to Calvary (by nelsoneric44)
Set in Flanders during the 16th century, It is inspired by Peter Bruegel the Elder's 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary. The drama depicts Breugel's creative process conceiving and rendering the painting while life goes on around him: the gentle humour in the pastoral activities of the peasants including Breugel's own family, along with the arbitrary and horrible crucifixion of alleged Protestants by the red-tuniced Spanish Inquisition militia sent from the Vatican.If you're looking for an interesting narrative, action, character development, witty dialogue, or any <more>
dialogue at all, you're out of luck. The film is in English, but the amount of melodramatic mutterings from the only 3 English speakers would barely fill a page all of the rest of the actors are Polish . This film dies on a small screen. If on the other hand, you're able to watch it on the largest possible screen in HD, you're in for a rare treat. The narrative is not what it's about, it's almost entirely about the remarkable imagery.Bruegel was inspired by the work of Hieronymus Bosch, both in his depiction of religious events and his style of rendering. Like Bosch, Bruegel depicted many scenes of human activity within one painting art as a narrative medium for the illiterate . In The Procession to Calvary, Christ carrying the cross is depicted small in scale, at the centre of the composition, surrounded by many other apparently unrelated groupings. The whole scene is dominated by a mill in the background sitting precariously on an impossible rock perch. Bruegel seems to have been working in the period before the formal rules of perspective entered the visual language of painters. His figures do shrink in size from foreground to background, but the terrain they occupy appears parallel or flat to the picture plane.This quality seems to make it ideal for the director's whimsical depiction of the painting taking shape in the artist's mind: groupings of real figures, all apparently shot in isolation, animate the entire surface of the painting, waiting to be frozen in time by the Bruegel's brush. Seeing the painting briefly in this manner is one of the most charming moments of cinematic art in recent memory.The director doesn't stop there in his use of a Bruegelesque approach to a visual medium Bruegel could't have imagined. There are numerous scenes where the camera gazes steadily on elaborately staged action in the distant background while something else transpires in close up. Both parts are in sharp focus. Trying to achieve this in-camera would present the cinematographer with an impossible depth of field situation. I expect a lot of scenes were carefully staged in this way, to be digitally knitted together in post-production. In every scene the colours and textures are a visual feast and the lighting looks deceptively natural. The costumes are stunning and the production design like a painting by Bruegel.As for the dialogue: this film might have been better without any; maybe a bit of voice-over at best. Rutger Hauer's craggy features make him entertaining enough to watch as Bruegel. He needn't have opened his mouth. Michael York as Bruegel's patron Nicolaes Jonghelinck just looks old and Charlotte Rampling as Mary delivers her standard serenely sad gazes, but is otherwise forgettable.