Thursday 24 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · The Mill and the Cross

The Mill and the Cross

A centuries-old painting comes to life in the slow-going, but visually sumptuous ‘The Mill and the Cross.’

Rod Lott October 12th, 2011

The Mill And The Cross
5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch

It is appropriate that Polish director Lech Majewski’s “The Mill and the Cross” is playing Saturday and Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, for two reasons: The English-language film adapts a famous painting, and in adhering to those visuals, stands as a work of art itself. It’s the very definition of “picturesque.” 

The artwork in question is Pieter Bruegel’s “The Procession to Calvary,” a 16th-century oil depicting a crowd forming around Jesus Christ as he collapses from the weight of the cross. Bruegel’s masterpiece contains hundreds of people on its canvas, and Majewski lets his camera “enter” the painting to tell the stories of a select few — most notably, Charlotte Rampling (“Never Let Me Go”) as the Virgin Mary and, as Bruegel, Rutger Hauer, about as far away as he could get from his other memorable role of this year, that of the titular “Hobo with a Shotgun.”

It’s the very definition of “picturesque.”

This being 1564, however, the stories are more glimpses of the villagers’ daily doings, where the simplest things amount to points of action: climbing a staircase, fiddling with a spider’s web, chopping down a tree, kneading dough, breast-feeding a baby, kicking a heretic, crows munching on the corpse of said heretic. At least these situations look fantastic, and with so little dialogue — if any — they had better.

I assume people will be most interested in the Christ scenes, which consume roughly the last third of a surprisingly slim, 92-minute running time. Still, don’t expect Christ to be a central character of his own story; its inclusion is about the surroundings, which are supplemented by an elegiac score (composed in part by Majewski, who also co-wrote the screenplay) that is used sparingly, rather than as an emotionally manipulative crutch. In other words, the music doesn’t “sweep,” to tell your heart it’s time to be crushed.

“The Mill and the Cross” can only be recommended as a visual exercise, because a plot is nonexistent. It’s deliberately slow-moving, like the recent “Meek’s Cutoff,” but unlike that tiresome travelogue of 16th-century Westerners, this film keeps your eyes busy and entranced. If Majewski had chosen to tell this tale without mimicking Bruegel’s brushstroke style, seeing it would be pointless.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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