The Mill and the Cross – 8

A tableau vivant in which ‘reality’ is a painting – specifically, Pieter Breugel’s “Road to Cavalry.” The movie obscures Jesus’s crucifixion amid 16th-century Flemish peasants and red-tunicked Spanish soldiers, just as Breugel did in his metaphor-filled canvas. With minimal soundtrack and even less dialogue, watching this film becomes an intense experience, and trying to piece together the action furthers one’s concentration. The movie could have done without identifiable stars Michael York and Charlotte Rampling, but perhaps director Lech Majewski felt they were needed to get this Polish feature into the few arthouses where it will be shown. We accept the more anonymous characters as real, although we are shown they are actors, they are filmed before a painted backdrop, and we see Breugel in the foreground, imagining them. What, then, is this saying about the story of Jesus?

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