I just returned from seeing “The Mill and the Cross”, the remarkable remake of The Way to Calvary by Pieter Bruegal the Elder. Some quick reactions:
1. If you were an art history major you will have multiple orgasms. Guaranteed.
2. Even if you weren’t, if your eyes are open you will be enchanted by images that occupy a gray zone between painting and live-action film.
3. The pace is extremely slow, which works if you allow yourself to be hypnotized. Don’t go to see it on an empty stomach.
4. The crucifixion thing is overdone, even after allowing for the fact that Bruegel overdoes it too.
5. The scene with the crows eating a dead guy’s eyeballs is really gross.
6. The people in this window on 16th century Flanders are much too clean and healthy. This is not only a distracting anachronism, it also distances us from the world we see in Bruegal’s paintings.
7. You can see why the Dutch fought so intensely to free themselves of Spanish rule.
8. If the movie doesn’t grab you, you will find it to be a mashup of Masterpiece Theater and Bread and Puppet, except that a rich banker would never be a good guy in a Bread and Puppet production.
9. This film is auteur theory on steroids: Lech Majewski not only directed it, he did camera work, art design and the musical score. If you don’t like it, you know who to blame.
10. How do people do those slow, gently hopping dances that Bruegal paints so well? Can we start a new craze?