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Falling into a Bruegel painting, on film

"The Mill and the Cross," directed by Lech Majewski. Kino Lorber, Inc.Kino Lorber, Inc.

By Bob Hicks

If you’re going to fall into a painting, choose carefully. Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie might be exciting, but after a while you’d start to feel like a mouse in a maze. Edvard Munch’s The Scream? You don’t want to go there. One of Henri Rousseau’s Edenic wild beasty scenes would be tempting, but how are your jungle survival skills? A Jackson Pollock action painting? It’d be an adventure, but a weirdly disorienting one. And do you really want to spend eternity slipping around Salvador Dali’s melted clocks in The Persistence of Memory?

No, better off to choose a painting with a broadly varied universe of its own, a place that gives you lots of room to roam. Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s 1564 masterpiece The Way to Calvary, for instance, a painting of meticulous and painstaking vision that exists in a complex network of space, thought and time. Calvary forms the basis for Polish director Lech Majewski’s audacious film The Mill & the Cross, a visually breathtaking piece of moviemaking that opens Friday at Northwest Portland’s Cinema 21 and plays through November 10.

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