FIFA (not the football association) is the annual International Festival of Films on Art that takes place in Montreal, Canada. The festival’s opening film was the 2011 film “The Mill and the Cross” by Lech Majewski. It’s a painting come to life and has me enthralled as the Flemish renaissance masterpiece hangs less than 3 miles from where I sit, in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum.
The trailer paints a picture of the charming film about the famous oil painting depicting daily life in Flanders, in the 16th century. As you’ll see brought to life in the film, public executions were treated as occasions tantamount to carnivals where the public acted indifferent and even amused to the gory and miserable scenes witnessed.
The film portrays, almost wordlessly, and with not much plot, the daily lives in 16th-century Antwerp which, was the sugar capital of Europe (importing product from Portuguese and Spanish plantations) and consequently the richest European city.
I’m so eager to visit this artwork in the flesh and to watch this positively reviewed film starting the great Michael York who, in my opinion, has one of the most listenable and best voices there is!
What’s unique and fascinating about this painting of Christ’s Crucifixion is that Bruegel decided to set the biblical event that happened over one thousand years before Bruegel’s time in his own age. Instead of Roman soldiers, Spanish militiamen march Jesus to Golgotha. The style of the piece is also unique to a “Crucifixion” mural as while most works highlight Jesus you can treat Bruegel’s painting as a “Where’s Wally?” as he’s made very hard to spot, with hundreds of characters engulfing the landscape, complacent and going about their daily lives.
It’s subversive, includes landscapes done according to the Antwerp School of which Bruegel was apart, and stars notable actors but doesn’t focus on developing the characters of Bruegel’s Virgin Mary, Pieter Bruegel or Nicolaes Jonghelinck but instead on the main attraction and star – the painting itself.
If you can believe your eyes, the above scene isn’t another close up of a Bruegel painting but a scene from The Mill and the Cross!
The film is based off Michael Francis Gibson’s historical novel of the same name. Gibson co-wrote the screenplay with Polish director Majewski. The film was shot in Europe and the majestic New Zealand .