The Mill and the Cross
is a 2011 film by Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski. It is based on Pieter Bruegel the Elder
's painting "The Way to Calvary◊
" and depicts scenes from the lives of the Loads and Loads of Characters
We see a young man arrested and executed by red shirted mercenaries (presumably because he is a protestant), travelling rogues and musicians, and a miller who watches everything from his heaven-like vantage point on top of a massive crag. We also see the crucifixion, and hear reflections from the Virgin Mary.
In between, we hear conversations between Bruegel (played by Rutger Hauer
) and his patron (Michael York), discussing the composition and meanings of the picture.
This film provides examples of:
- Age Lift: Bruegel was about 40 when he painted "The Way to Calvary", and died at the age of 44. Rutger Hauer was 67 when the film came out.
- Alone in a Crowd: Bruegel and his patron discuss the fact that Christ himself is hard to spot in the middle of all the figures when first viewing the picture. A close look actually reveals that he is the focal point of the whole scene, with the crowds radiating from him in lines, like the strands of a cobweb.
- Anachronism Stew: 16th century peasant life side by side with episodes from the New Testament, invoked intentionally by Bruegel.
- Eye Scream: The young man whose body is tied to a wheel and placed on top of a pole, courtesy of some crows.
- The Movie: A rare example of a painting adapted to film.
- Reality Subtext: In-Universe, it is made clear that Bruegel is depicting the "Roman" soldiers executing Jesus as Spanish mercenaries. He is criticising the political realities of his own time and place.
- Scenery Porn
- Show Within a Show: In this case, a painting within a film brought to life.