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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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