The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  7 October 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,444 users  
Reviews: 56 user | 15 critic

The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.



(based on the novel: "The Agony and the Ecstasy" by), (screen story and screenplay)
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Contessina de'Medici
Alberto Lupo ...
Venantino Venantini ...
Paris De Grassis
John Stacy ...
Fausto Tozzi ...
Maxine Audley ...


Pope Julius is eager to leave behind works by which he will be remembered. To this end he cajoles Michelangelo into painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. When not on the battlefield uniting Italy, the Pope nags Michelangelo to speed up his painful work on the frescoes. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


From the age of magnificence comes a new magnificence in motion pictures See more »


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Parents Guide:







Release Date:

7 October 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstasy  »

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first conversation Michaelangelo (Charlton Heston) has with Bramante (Harry Andrews) is to discuss a large block of marble for the carving on Moses, a sly reference to one of Heston's most famous roles, that of Moses, in The Ten Commandments (1956). See more »


On the eastern wall of the Sistine Chapel, we can see two frescoes that have been painted by Arrigo Paludano in 1571 and Matteo da Lecce, thirty years after Michelangelo completed the Last Judgement (1541). They replaced the first paintings by Signorelli and Ghirlandaio destroyed by a partial collapsing of the wall. Obviously, they couldn't be shown if the action takes place between 1508 and 1512. See more »


Raphael: For what is an artist in this world but a servant, a lackey for the rich and powerful? Before we even begin to work, to feed this craving of ours, we must find a patron, a rich man of affairs, or a merchant, or a prince or... a Pope. We must bow, fawn, kiss hands to be able to do the things we must do or die.
Raphael: We are harlots always peddling beauty at the doorsteps of the mighty.
Michelangelo: If it comes to that, I won't be an artist.
Raphael: [scoffs] You'll always be an artist. You have no choice.
See more »


Edited from Prologue: The Artist Who Did Not Want to Paint (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

"When will you end it??"
28 August 2005 | by (Vancouver) – See all my reviews

'Agony and the Ecstasy' is one heck of an attempt to be a big of a movie as possible. It's details the story of Pope Julius's commissioning of a reluctant Michelangelo to paint the roof of the Sistine chapel fer heaven's sakes!! It also two of the stars That Mattered In The 60's, Rex Harrison playing the Pope and Charlton Heston as Michelangelo! AND it runs for 2 and a half hours! I mean, this movie must mean something if they have a mini-biography of Michelangelo for the first 15 minutes, right? OK, despite it's too long running length, the movie is a fun sit through actually. It's not exactly a pompous costumed historical drama as it looks, sure there's a lot material covered here, but Heston and Harrison keep the story going quite well with their great portrayals here. I had seen this several years ago, and while Heston is good, it's Harrison who got my attention this time out, as his total control freak Pope character is quite entertaining to watch.

So again, a bit lengthy, but still entertaining.

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