The Mill and the Cross (Peter Bruegel)

Behind every great painting lies an even greater story

Lech Majewski  – a widely reputed Polish visual artist with retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in NY and artworks on view at the Venice Biennale (see: – has created a motion picture THE MILL & THE CROSS based on the painting by Peter Bruegel, The Way to Calvary.

The inspiration came from the book The Mill & the Cross, written by a renowned Art historian, Michael Francis Gibson, in which the story of Christ’s Passion is set in Flanders in the year 1564, the very year Bruegel painted his masterpiece. Among the five hundred plus figures swarming over the Bruegel’s canvas, Gibson, together with Majewski, selected a dozen characters whose life stories unfold and intertwine. To recreate this unique work on film, a group of computer graphic wizards produced backgrounds from the original Bruegel paintings, an elaborate task, in view of the amount of special effects required.

Lech Majewski is an expert in such undertakings – his feature The Garden of Earthly Delights based on the painting by Hieronymus Bosch was called by the Sight & Sound a “masterpiece”; and by The Washington Post: “the most powerful film made in years”. He wrote the original story and produced Julian Schnabel’s debut Basquiat. Majewski’s latest film Glass Lips based on his installation at the 2007 Venice Biennale was described by The New York Times as “beautiful and hypnotic!”; while Variety wrote: “Glass Lips exerts a chilly fascination from minute to minute, it’s harshly beautiful, dialogue-free meditation.”

In THE MILL & THE CROSS, Rutger Hauer plays Peter Bruegel. His friend Jonghelinck, a banker and art collect is portrayed by Michael York and Mary is played by Charlotte Rampling. (

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