How can I laud this film I liked so much, and enjoyed? Let me try a number of ways. For this is a movie that asks for many things of its audience. This film is a work of art.
Called the wisest philosopher among painters, "Pieter Bruegel’s epic masterpiece "The Way To Calvary" depicts the story of Christ’s Passion set in Flanders under brutal Spanish occupation in the year 1564, the very year Bruegel created his painting. From among the more than 500 figures that fill Bruegel’s remarkable canvas, The Mill & The Cross focuses on a dozen characters whose life stories unfold and intertwine in a panoramic landscape populated by villagers and red-caped horsemen. Among them are Bruegel himself (played by Rutger Hauer), his friend and art collector Nicholas Jonghelinck (Michael York), and the Virgin Mary (Charlotte Rampling).” So says the distributor about the film they distribute, Kino Loberer of New York City.
Before going further with some remarks on the film as a work itself and its credits, note that the part played by Rutger Hauer is done with dignity and offers a stoic painterly attitude of heroic disengagement with the large scene he paints. A handsome man, the character played by Rutger Hauer, Bruegel himself does as the other actors do: plays the role with a balance of speaking and silence, with emphasis on the silence. Quiet in dialogue, that is silent moments, is a notable feature of the playing style in The Mill & The Cross. Here is a well chosen means of conveying meaning as audience members become attuned to the rhythm of acting style performed by not only this excellent player, but all the competent and experienced main players in their parts. There is a shadow and light to the acting sensibility, not in literal use of cinema and play of film, but a kind of sensibility of both knowing and not knowing. But it is Rutger Hauer’s character who appears as a man who has eyes to see and a distance in objectivity in mind to patiently portray what his eye sees, if one grasps the painting as shown in the style of the cinema itself.