PFS Film Review
The Mill and the Cross


The Mill and the CrossIn 1555, Flemish-speaking Hapsburg ruler Charles V abdicated. Philip II of Spain became king. Mercenaries in Spanish uniforms then entered Flanders to enforce the Inquisition. Those who spoke French were already Catholics, but Jews and Protestants were targeted for death. Many escaped to provinces of what is now called Germany, but in 1564 Pieter Breugel (played by Rutger Hauer) painted "The Procession to Calvary" (now in a Vienna museum) and other masterpieces to depict what life was then like. In the days before photography, his painting vividly recorded some of the atrocities in a particular locale (though filmed in Poland) containing a wind-powered mill and about a hundred denizens. In the film Breugel's patron, Nicolaes Jonghelinck (played by Sir Michael York), comments on the politics, Breugel explains each part of the sketch that will later be painted, and a mother (played by Charlotte Rampling) appears from time to time, lamenting the cruel death of her son. Directed by Lech Majewski, The Mill and the Cross re-enacts several parts of the drama, developing a new genre of living art on film. MH

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