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?


Average Shot Length = ~7.5 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.8 seconds. 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 »


Contessina de Medici: Your question insults us both!
See more »


Referenced in QI: Atoms (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

excellent historical drama
3 November 2000 | by See all my reviews

I would be more generous than Maltin was with this one. I watched it again recently on tape and my impression improved over my first viewing. The production values are sumptuous, and the construction of a 1:1 mockup of the Sistine Chapel by Dino deLaurentis is a story in itself, evidently. Heston is pretty good as Michelangelo but is, I think, overshadowed by Harrison, who is just marvelous as Pope Julius (a previous commenter remarked on the historically inauthentic absence of his beard; in addition, Julius was too old & inform too ride a horse into battle, but insisted on leading while carried on a litter). The conflicted interplay between Julius & Michelangelo is the core of the film, of course, and the script does its job well in this regard, particularly in the closing dialogue. It is interesting, though, to see how the movie dances around the issue of Michelangelo's purported homosexuality. We are so much more frank today (not necessarily for the better), and one shudders to consider how a contemporary movie would treat this subject (not that there's a chance in hell of a major movie being made today on the subject of the creation of one of the masterworks of West's artistic inheritance). If any movie definitely needs the letterbox format to show it off at its best, it is this one, so watch for it on AMC where it is often shown that way.

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