Pope Julius II (Sir Rex Harrison) is eager to leave behind works by which he will be remembered. To this end he cajoles Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) 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 <email@example.com>
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 »
"The Agony and the Ecstasy" is the story of Michaelangelo and his painting of the Sistine Chapel at the behest of Pope Julius II, a warrior and Patron of the Arts.
But it's really about so much more - the connection between art and the artist, faith, will, and the quest for perfection. Most of all, it's about the complicated relationship of two determined men, Michaelangelo and Pope Julius, which is adversarial and even violent.
The color and scenery in this film are truly beautiful, but I'd love to see a restored print, as I imagine the colors would even be richer.
Charlton Heston is a convincing and strong Michelangelo in what may be his best performance. It's buoyed by the magnificent work of Rex Harrison as Julius II. The two spark one another, and the result is an exciting screen teaming. There is hatred, resentment, a battle of wills, love and admiration between them, the agony and ecstasy of connecting with another, as Diane Cilento says in the film. She plays a woman in love with Michaelangelo. He explains that he cannot love her because of the commitment he has made to his true love, his art. The book hints at Michaelangelo's homosexuality, and it's covered with one line. After Michaelangelo says that he cannot match her feelings, he looks at a sketch of a nude man. "And it's not that either," he says.
Many scenes stick out. The somewhat hokey one in the mountains, when Michaelangelo looks at the heavens and receives his inspiration is nevertheless a gorgeous scene; the incredible scene when Michaelangelo discovers the Pope alone at night with a candle studying the ceiling is perhaps the best, as Michaelangelo explains his concept of God and faith. And the last scene between the two men is unforgettable.
There is a documentary about Michaelangelo and his work before the movie begins. A magnificent film. Don't miss it.
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