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The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

 -  Drama | History  -  7 October 1965 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,900 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.

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(based on the novel: "The Agony and the Ecstasy" by), (screen story and screenplay)
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Title: The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A raging era of titans, popes and princes... of conspiracy and conflict... of turmoil and transgressions... of a man among men... of magnificence! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

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Release Date:

7 October 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstasy  »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There is no on screen credit for any producer. See more »

Goofs

Giovanni de' Medici (Pope Leo X) is portrayed in this movie as an older man in this film, however he was only in his 30s when the Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted and only 37 when elected Pope. See more »

Quotes

[repeated exchange]
Pope Julius II: When will you make an end?
Michelangelo: When I am finished!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Northern Exposure: Mite Makes Right (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Creating A Wonder
17 May 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Agony and the Ecstasy is the story of the creation of the Sistine Chapel Roof painting, the time and money it took while Pope Julius II was busy establishing his Papacy as a political force.

Back in those days the Pope was far more than the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He ruled a considerable piece of real estate in the center of the Italian peninsula that were called the Papal States. They varied in geographic size depending on how relatively strong the Pope or his enemies were at a given time. The Papal States were the last independent entity to join a united Italy in 1870.

The Borgias had been nibbling away at the Papal States for years and their triumph became complete when one of their's became Pope Alexander VI in 1491. When Giuliano Della Rovere became Julius II in 1503 succeeding Alexander VI he had it in mind to reclaim the states from the Borgias and their backer the French monarchy. Those are the folks you see Rex Harrison fighting at the beginning of the film.

In fact Harrison's identity as the warrior Pope is made clear right at the beginning of the film when after we see this figure on a white horse killing some foes in battle, he takes off his helmet and some attendees put his papal vestments right over his armor.

But Julius II wanted to be known as a patron of the arts as well as the warrior Pope. His uncle Pope Sixtus VI had built the Sistine Chapel which is today the personal chapel of the papal residence. According to Wikipedia its dimensions are exactly what the Bible lays down as the dimensions King Solomon built his temple. But who knows what Solomon had decorating his roof.

It's a big bare spot and who to fill it with something good. Julius II decided on Michelangelo Buonarrati who's got quite a resume of creativity to recommend him even though it's mostly sculpture.

The film is the story of the creative differences between Michelangelo and Julius. Michelangelo is knowing he's created something for the ages, but he won't see the big picture of the here and now of Renaissance European politics which Julius II has to deal with.

Sir Carol Reed directed The Agony and the Ecstasy and does a marvelous job of creating the look and atmosphere of the Renaissance in Italy. Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison playing Michelangelo and the Pope give outstanding performances.

If the film has a weakness is that it really is a two man show with no other characters developed in any way. The rest of the mostly Italian cast just serve as a crowd.

If you're either a patron of the arts or a Catholic who would like to know how the Sistine Chapel acquired its legendary roof than by all means see The Agony and the Ecstasy.


18 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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