The Mill & The Cross

October 17, 2011

It has long been a dream of mine to see a film made in the visual style of a favourite painter. My particular wish has been for a film on the life of St. Francis filmed in the style of Giotto, and I am still waiting. (Also, it has to be made by a film-making genius and a saint, so I will probably be waiting for a while yet.)

In the meantime, a film in the style of Peter Bruegel would be a close second choice, and I can hardly believe that my dream may have come true. The Mill & The Cross, directed by a Polish filmmaker named Lech Majewski, takes us inside Bruegel’s painting The Road to Calvary, retaining the look of his characters and landscapes. I do not know what the film is actually about. It seems too good to be true that it could actually be about Calvary. I notice from the Wikipedia page that one of the central characters is Mary, so that is encouraging. But the trailer doesn’t give many clues to the story.

The visuals in this trailer are breathtaking, especially if you are a lover of Bruegel, but be warned that some of the imagery is unusually gruesome for a trailer. The film was shown at Sundance earlier this year, but I have no idea when, or if, it will get a wide release. Maybe never. In any case, this is terribly, terribly tantalizing.

16 Responses to “The Mill & The Cross”

  1. Janet Says:

    I will really be looking out for that one.

    I’ve seen a couple of movies in the past year in which the director seemed to be working in the style of artists. One was My Brilliant Career, which has many scenes that look like Impressionist paintings. The original BBC miniseries Little Dorrit (the one with Derek Jacobi) looks like a series of Dutch Masters. I kept thinking, “That’s a Vermeer.”


  2. cburrell Says:

    I read that the director of The Mill & The Cross made an earlier film, called The Garden of Earthly Delights, in the style of (who else?) Hieronymous Bosch. I can’t find much about it online.

    I’d love to see it, but, considering the subject matter, I would probably have to avert my eyes for a good portion of the running time, and that would rather defeat the purpose.

  3. Francesca Says:

    Pasolini’s Gospel of Matthew echoes Quattrocento paintings. William S. Hart’s early silent Westerns are said to echo Remington – they certainly look like paintings in motion.

  4. Janet Says:

    I remember once seeing a documentary in which they talked about John Ford deliberately imitating Remington pictures in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. This makes me want to see it again.


  5. cburrell Says:

    I have had Pasolini’s film sitting at home for months; now I have an incentive to watch it. Thanks, Francesca.

    I guess I don’t know who this Remington fellow is. I thought he made guns.

  6. cburrell Says:

    Am I supposed to be looking at all the guns?

  7. Janet Says:

    I’m confused. Those are paintings by Remington.


  8. cburrell Says:

    And I am being willfully obtuse. Thanks for finding the pictures.

  9. Janet Says:

    I see.

    • Janet Says:

      Of course!

      I’ve been sick and I’m a bit out of it.

      I had to write a paper about “Musee des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden and I spent a lot of time looking at Breughel paintings. I would love to go some place and see a real one. I really hope that movie comes to Memphis.


      • cburrell Says:

        I used to have a big, beautiful print of Bruegel’s Wedding Dance hanging in my bachelor pad. My wife dislikes it, so it is now in storage. But I live in hope that somehow, someday, I will be able to restore it to a place of honour in our home.

        I do not think that I have ever seen a Bruegel original.

  10. Janet Says:

    Does it have anything to do with that fellow in the lower right-hand corner? I’m not particularly sure I would want to look at him everyday.


  11. cburrell Says:

    Oh, he’s a sweetie.

  12. Janet Says:

    Yes, I can tell that that is what the woman to the right of him is thinking.


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