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The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
Exquisite film. Hollywood would never make something like this today.
The Agony and the Ecstasy is a 1965 film about the painting of the Sistine Chapel and is loosely based on Irving Stone's novel of the same name. Starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II, the film seems to be historically accurate, with the usual artistic liberties taken (such as Michelangelo not being jailed and beaten for arguing with the pope) to make it enjoyable to watch. The sets were exquisite. It will never cross your mind that this was made in the twentieth century. The attention to detail, such as the pope's splendor and the peasants' squalor, immerses the viewer in the Renaissance. While the pope's British accent was at first awkward, it is indicative of Hollywood's tendency to give British accents to Europeans. Heston speaks in a brash American accent, but his performance is grand enough to forgive this.
The strained relationship between Julius and Michelangelo creates visible tension throughout the movie. The two bicker and have their differences, but even Michelangelo's sketches lying on the dirt prove so captivating to Julius that he, ignoring the cannons and screams around him during a battle to regain Catholic lands, must study them. At this moment, the two men are sharing a sense of purpose toward the same goal of glorifying God and his creations. They seem like generals planning a battle other than the one going on around them.
The final message was that God inspires people to do important things, even if they don't realize it. Pope Julius thinks he's just a warrior and Michelangelo thinks himself a mere artist, but centuries later they are remembered for their ambitious actions in creating a wondrous work of art.
The ultimate result is an immensely entertaining, realistic, beautiful masterpiece comparable to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel itself.