Sydney 2011 Review: THE MILL AND THE CROSS


I was lured to polish artist/filmmaker Lech Majewski€™s art house film through pure cinematic experimental intrigue: exactly how would a director translate a film into a painting? Sure it€™s kinda been attempted before with Barry Lyndon€™s lurid aesthetic palette that resulted in oil painting perfection. But in The Mill and the Cross, (which uses Pieter Bruegel€™s 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary as the source material for re-staging various key events) a combination of green-screen wizardry, location shoots and vast matte backdrops would be spliced together in an attempt to get even closer to a filmic painting effect. Unfortunately what might have been an interesting experiment doesn€™t actually translate into engaging cinema. Minimal dialogue (the first 30 minutes consists of nothing more than the sound of grinding gears, squeaky mills and fumbling children) and a badly cast Rutger Hauer as the intricate painter and analyser add nothing but boredom to proceedings. Then Charlotte Rampling and Michael York come onto the scene and invoke some quaint, theatrical prestige to various restaged stories...but little else. The Mill and the Cross may provide a somewhat hypnotic appeal that could be mildly diverting to some but will more than likely leave most minds stagnated. Devoid of humour this pure art flick is aesthetically beautiful but lacks any worthwhile connection with its audiences to recommend it.

Oliver Pfeiffer is a freelance writer who trained at the British Film Institute. He joined OWF in 2007 and now contributes as a Features Writer. Since becoming Obsessed with Film he has interviewed such diverse talents as actors Keanu Reeves, Tobin Bell, Dave Prowse and Naomie Harris, new Hammer Studios Head Simon Oakes and Hollywood filmmakers James Mangold, Scott Derrickson and Uk director Justin Chadwick. Previously he contributed to and has had other articles published in Empire, Hecklerspray, Se7en Magazine, Pop Matters, The Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle and more recently SciFiNow Magazine and The Guardian. He loves anything directed by Cronenberg, Lynch, Weir, Haneke, Herzog, Kubrick and Hitchcock and always has time for Hammer horror films, Ealing comedies and those twisted Giallo movies. His blog is: