THE MILL & THE CROSS
| "Even before the opening credits run, The Mill & The Cross casts a transfixing spell, as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the great 16th-century Flemish artist, chats with his patron Nicholas Jonghelinck while he sketches studies for a large work he is preparing. In this lush and hypnotic examination of a painter's work and the times in which he lived, Mr. Majewski presents an extended contemplation of the creative process itself. It isn't the artist, it's the art that's the star here, and Mr. Majewski lavishes sophisticated, enchanting detail on its re-creation. He's painting cinematically... An inspiring, alluring meditation about imagery and storytelling, the common coin of history, religion and art."
Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times
"Visually lush historical drama. Lech Majewski reinvents the process by which the canvas was made, using extensive computer graphics and an ensemble cast to populate not only an uncanny tableux vivant against the Low Country panorama, but to flesh out the stories of the those whom Bruegel touched and witnessed. The film's methodical hand mirrors the master's own, boldly telling its tale with images more than words."
Steve Dollar, The Wall Street Journal
"An extraordinary imaginative leap... Visually ravishing, surprisingly beguiling gamble... The Mill & The Cross delights, with episodes of rambunctious humor among some rural ne'er-do-wells and a roving pack of joyfully rowdy children. The pick details rustic Flanders life with loving care, design contributions are superlative... Immersive experience a la Sokurov's Russian Ark... Remarkable!"
Dennis Harvey, VARIETY
"A breakthrough epic film... The Mill & The Cross is a revelation that should not be missed."
David D'Arcy, Screen International
"Inside a masterpiece, and creating a new one in The Mill & The Cross - an extraordinary example of both art-historical interpretation and CGI as passport to unknown lands."
Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice
"Visually ravishing and consistently absorbing. An extraordinary achievement born of an extraordinary idea, The Mill & The Cross is certainly the answer to anyone who says there's nothing new at the movies. Like Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark (2002) - which it recalls, only because it's audacious and about creativity - The Mill & The Cross is a movie made possible by the most up-to-date technology, and yet explores a work 500 years old and the insoluble connections to humanity made by timeless art... This film is itself a work of art. One can only imagine how and by whom it might itself be explored and examined 500 years in the future, but director Majewski's miraculous movie makes you wonder."
John Anderson, Newsday
"A unique examination of Dutchman Pieter Bruegel's 16th-century painting. No description can do justice to The Mill & The Cross, which must be seen to be fully appreciated."
V.A. Musetto, New York Post
"The creation of a famous Brueghel painting is turned into a visual meta-feast. In a feat of artistry worthy of its source, Lech Majewski takes us deep inside the Flemish master's beautiful nightmare. The Mill & The Cross is a dazzling master class in visual composition. Its splendors are best appreciated in singular images even as the work eventually coalesces into a surprisingly moving finale. After toil and terror, there can still be joy. Critics' pick."
Eric Hynes, Time Out New York
"The Mill & The Cross is a stunning piece of art in its own right. Magnificent... Intriguing and playful, infused with the filmmaker's passion for his subject. Spectacular and irresistible.
It is a triumph!"
Pam Grady, BOXOFFICE Magazine
"Highly original, visually stunning interpretation of famous Pieter Bruegel masterpiece should delight discriminating filmgoers embracing this unique journey into art, history, religion and haunting cinematic experiment. The Mill & The Cross is a clean narrative and observational excursion beyond Bruegel's purview. Majewski's lavish production achieves the jaw-dropping spectacle to great immersive effect. Proof of the film's power is that some of its imagery - whether dreamscape or detail - sticks in memory."
Doris Toumarkine, Film Journal International
"Visually striking. Audacious!"
New York Magazine
"A meticoulously crafted experiment in which Lech Majewski invites viewers to step inside Bruegel's 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary. His film is visually arresting enough to hold audiences captive."
Laura Kern, Film Comment
"Majewski's film is a far cry from such melodramatic movie renderings of artists and their lives as Lust for Life or Moulin Rouge. Rather than telling the story through the framework of an artist's personal trials and tribulations, Majewski focuses on how Bruegel made the painting, showing the artist sketching, discussing his work, and scouting locations. We also see many of the characters whom Bruegel painted as they get caught up in both the drama of the crucifixion and the stark realities of life under the Spanish Inquisition. 'I want the viewer to live inside the painting,' Majewski says about his film, adding that he wants us to meet the people in the picture 'as they are painted.'"
Steve Barnes ARTnews
"The word "film" seems inadequate to describe Lech Majewski's The Mill & The Cross, a mesmerizingly layered rendering of the creation of Pieter Bruegel's iconic The Way to Calvary. From its arresting opening image of Bruegel (played by another legend, Rutger Hauer) wandering inside his masterpiece-in-progress, To Majewski's ingenious use of subtle movement, this film is less costume drama and more time capsule come to life. It's an art installation captured by painstaking cinematography. Each scene is rendered like a brushstroke, and is accompanied by a haunting sound design that surreptitiously sucks you in. Majewski, much like his fellow countryman Roman Polanski, is a cool outsider at heart, preferring to peer through doorways in order to spy on daily life, on all its mundane activities and playful bawdiness... The Mill & The Cross ultimately becomes an intoxicating invention, timeless and innovative. A visceral experience."
Lauren Wissot, SLANT Magazine
"The Mill & The Cross is worth attempting for its stunning visuals alone. Lech Majewski brings the Bruegel's world to life in a striking, splendid fashion, combining real countrysides, live actors, and matte backgrounds for a look that is exquisitely all its own."
Alison Willmore, The ONION Magazine
"The Mill & The Cross is astonishing... Immersive experience."
Stephen Garrett, ESQURE Magazine
"You are not stuck by the pulsing intellect of Majewski's The Mill & The Cross on first viewing. Rather, you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the lush visual feast before you. And his film - more than any other to which is applied the slapdash moniker of "experimental" - not only crosses, but leaps the bounds between "visual art" and film, presenting an amalgam that at once is radically novel and naturally familiar."
Alec Meacham, BOMB Magazine
"Majewski has achieved the impossible: The Mill & The Cross is a rich and expressive film that continues to offer rewards upon each viewing, much like the Bruegel's painting itself."
Matthiew Lucas, From The Front Row
"It is impossible to hang a pat label on this film. It certainly is not non-narrative filmmaking, since it encompasses the greatest story ever told. However, it completely challenges linear notions of time, incorporating Christ's Passion and the world of 1564 Flanders. Majewski's visuals are often arresting, with the figures literally coming alive on Bruegel's canvas. Yet, Majewski also captures moments of both tender intimacy and graphic torture, rendered with powerful immediacy... A brilliant personal trumph for Majewski, who also served as producer, co-cinematographer, co-composer, and sound designer, The Mill & The Cross effectively blurs the distinction between film and painting, yet it is more of a "movie" than nearly anything ever deemed "experimental film". A unique genre-defying viewing experience is very highly recomended indeed."
Joe Bendel, Epoch Times
"A gorgeous film. The Mill & The Cross is clearly the work of someone with immense command of his craft and his material."
Shawn Levy, The Oregonian
"Computer-generated imagery is often used to simulate the future in motion pictures, but the ravishing The Mill & The Cross uses it to replicate the past. The effect is rich and complex, as befits the artist's ambitions. A painting "should be large enough to hold everything," Bruegel explains to Jonghelinck, and The Mill & The Cross is worthy of that ideal; its visual splendor argues for repeated viewings... At the end of the film transfixed viewers will not be ready to leave."
Mark Jenkins, National Public Radio
"Gorgeous. I was engrossed with every shot. Stunning special effects and cinematography."
Chris Campbell, indieWIRE
"Inspired by a book-length study of Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel's The Way to Calvary, Lech Majewski has created an absorbing blend of art history and feature filmmaking. Visually ingenious, the resulting film offers a multilayered panorama encompassing, and imaginatively expanding upon, the painting's genesis and content. The overall experience is akin to watching a lithograph by Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher spring to life. Majewski employs computer technology without disrupting the period feel or the story's timelessness - and while remaining true to Bruegel's visual aesthetic. The sound effects, which serve a vital function since there's so little dialogue, are equally expressive... Majewski's tone is calm and evenhanded. You don't sense he favors one Christian denomination or is eager to indict the church or Catholicism per se. Instead, he seems intent on conveying a universal message against religious intolerance and human rights abuses. His film is grounded in the connection between the paschal mystery and social justice. Therefore, at movie's end, we're reminded that we immerse ourselves in artistic masterpieces in order to better understand distressing and regrettable facts about real life."
John P. McCarthy, Catholic News Service
"The Mill & The Cross is definitely a masterpiece of cinema!"
Ross Ufberg, GALO Magazine
|Pieter Bruegel's epic masterpiece The Way To Calvary depicts the story of Christ's Passion set in Flanders under brutal Spanish occupation in the year 1564, the very year Bruegel created his painting. From among the more than five hundred figures that fill Bruegel's remarkable canvas, THE MILL & THE CROSS focuses on a dozen characters whose life stories unfold and intertwine in a panoramic landscape populated by villagers and red-caped horsemen. Among them are Bruegel himself (played by Rutger Hauer), his friend and art collector Nicholas Jonghelinck (Michael York), and the Virgin Mary (Charlotte Rampling).|
|THE MILL & THE CROSS invites the viewer to reconstruct from Bruegel's preparatory drawings the deeper meaning of scenes. Following the painter's hints sketched on paper, the viewer pieces together an epic story of courage, defiance and sacrifice, and, like a detective on a path of clues, succeeds in reading the hidden language of symbols.|
|Bruegel was, and still is, the wisest philosopher among the painters. In most of his works he took pains to hide the obvious by planting distractions somewhere else. The hidden should be palpable - that was his stratagem for showing the quintessence of suffering. Namely, that nobody cares about it. The sufferer is left alone, abandoned, forgotten... The others have to live their lives and somehow make the most out of it.|
|There are other themes in THE MILL & THE CROSS as well: That only an artist can stop time, capture the moment and immortalise it. Or that the elements that build a single image hanging in a museum can be plentiful... But nothing is more important than that the hidden is the essence of Truth.|