The Mill and the Cross

Rated NR 95 minutes 2011

What comes barreling across time from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1564 painting The Road to Calvary is that the cruelest killing of them all, the crucifixion of the man who loved everyone regardless of their station or past lives, took place while everybody else went about their lives, working, eating, dancing, having sex. That even this death didn’t make time stop. But this added cruelty might also be considered the only possible redemption: that during horror, joy can still exist. Those tremendous conflicts are why Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski made the absorbing movie The Mill and the Cross, in which the painting comes alive to deliver its potent message. The film takes liberties that can be challenging to follow, so let go of trying. Action toggles between Bruegel’s time and Christ’s (sometimes conflating them), and it’s a welcome contrast from art-history movies clogged with pedestrian detail. Majewski is not shy or indirect. Sometimes that means goofy monologues by Bruegel (Rutger Hauer) and the Virgin (Charlotte Rampling). But that’s better than being opaque, as other imaginative adapters of paintings have been. Mill and Cross is a meditation on the desire to make art in order to stop time. It’s wonderful. (92 min.)

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Lech Majewski

Producer: Lech Majewski, Freddy Olsson and Dorota Roszkowska

Cast: Rutger Hauer, Charlotte Rampling and Michael York

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