The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.
Battle of Wills Between Michelangelo and Pope Julius--Fascinating
This is a fascinating, colorful and very-well made film that looks like an epic and is in fact an intelligent drama about sculptor-painter- architect-poet Michelangelo Buonarrotti. Here portrayed by the much taller Charlton Heston, and admirably, he is presented as a man who want only to create beauty, a man without "people skills" or interest in much of anything else--not women, nor war not the dynastic dreams of men--only the Renaissance idea of utilizing one's abilities. He even pays attention to religion only because the world interests him, and he equates his heaven with what men can achieve--and Earth with the same sort of place he expects to find as an afterlife. Carol Reed directed and produced this fascinating look at the Renaissance, with its warrior priests, its worldly dreamers and its subtle change toward a politics of gunpowder, secular pursuits and worldly morality. Philp Dunne, author of "David and Bathsheba" wrote this thoughtful spectacle film as well. In the cast besides Heston are Rex Harrison as Pope Julius, close-fisted patron, admirer and nemesis, Harry Andrews as his rival Bramante, Diane Cilento as the woman who would like to love him, Alberto Lupo, Adolfo Celli, Fausto Tozzi and a narration by Marvin Miller. The opportunity to see the real landscapes in which Michelangelo was born, worked and became inspired is a wonderful one for the viewer; the entire Carrara marble quarry section is stunningly beautiful. The film has battle scenes able done by Robert D. Webb, Leon Shamroy's cinematography, a prelude by Jerrald Goldsmith and sterling music by Alex North, production design by John Cuir and Jack Martin Smith and memorable costumes by Vittorio Nino Novarese. The basic thrust of the storyline is twofold; against the wars conducted by vigorous and all-too-worldly Pope Julius, the war to win secular hegemony for his Papal rule, the counter-current is Michelangelo's desire to further his career in Rome by obtaining a commission from the Pope. He does, an assignment to refurbish the Sistine Chapel for him. But after an attempt at some saints, he leaves Rome, and flees to his beloved Carrara. There, surrounded by mountains, he has a vision at sunset and suddenly knows what he must do. Obtaining Julius's reluctant permission, he sets to work covering that modest ceiling with tremendous figures, a bearded Jehovah, a recumbent Adam touched to life by a divine spark, the world's most famous fresco painted from a homemade scaffolding; in spite of illness, missed meals, filth, deprivation, cold, an injury that nearly costs him his eye and more, including the Pope's indifference to his intense passion for his art, Michelangelo endures. "When will you make an end?" Julius cries. "When I have done," the artist insists. And at the end, Julius, beaten on the field of battle, admits he may also have been wrong about the ceiling...that his fostering of Michelangelo's work may be the most important thing he has ever done. Of course the puritans of the era object to the nakedness the artist has depicted, but Michelangelo says he painted people as God made them. The movie, based on the biography "The Agony and the Ecstacy" by Irving Stone here concentrates on a seminal moment in the great artist's career. He may be a sculptor as he insists; but after seeing this moving and fascinating film, no one can doubt that he is also a stubborn and single-minded man--and a painter of genius. Most underrated; often fascinating fictionalized biography. Heston and Harrison are good, everyone else good as well. Worth seeing many times, if only for Dunne's dialogue and the scenery.
- Jul 1, 2005
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