The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
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The story - based on the Irving Stone best-seller - tells of that period during Michelangelo's life when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel...
Rex Harrison portrays the sprightly Pope Julius II, the greatest art patron of the papal line and one of the most powerful rulers of his age, who led military efforts to prevent French domination of Italy and as a politician and patron of the arts, he shove for a synthesis of church and state, of spirit and culture, with a grandeur unequaled by succeeding popes... His name is closely linked with those of great artists such Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo... With his wealth of visionary ideas, he contributed to their creativity... Although he had little of the priest in him, he was concerned - toward the end - only with the church's grandeur... He wished for greatness for the papacy rather than for the pope, and for peace in Italy...
The film shows the extraordinary violent temper of the Pope, his lost of his self-control and his rude behavior towards the Florentine when he shouts: 'He will paint it or he will hang!'
But, in one scene, he explains to Michelangelo his reasons: 'If I had not become a conqueror, there would be no church, no pontiff, no hope for peace for mankind and, I might add, no patrons for sculpture, painting, and architecture.'
"The Agony and the Ecstasy" is a proof of faith and a battle of wills... The pope continually asks Michelangelo: 'When you will make an end of it?' and the answer of Buonarotti is invariably the same: 'When I'm finished!'
But despite these recurrent strains imposed on their relations by the two overly similar personalities, their relationship is so close that the Pope becomes, in fact, Michelangelo's intellectual collaborator... The paintings are in form and conception, a product of the artistic symbiosis of two towering figures of the 16th Century-Italy...
Two breathtaking moments of the motion picture are to be mention: The 'Inspiration' scene where the clouds were forming the focal points of Michelangelo's Frescos; and the great sequence of meditation between the Pope and Buonarotti in front of the creation panel...
The supporting cast include: Harry Andrews playing the Italian architect of the Renaissance Bramante; Tomas Milian as Raphael, the master of the Italian High Renaissance style; and Diane Cilento as Contessina Medici, the woman who drives Michelangelo to search his heart for important paths of activity...
The film - an ecstasy for those who love and appreciate great art and powerful work - is a huge spectacle, a rich dramatization, moving and fascinating...
The picture ends by another commission of the Pope to Michelangelo, another huge work, full of swirling figures and terrible images of despair, the powerful fresco: 'The Last Judgment', the ceiling behind the high altar... Michelangelo's continuous argument is heard: 'I still say painting is not my trade!' and, obviously, the Pope response: 'To work, my son!'
And what a huge work Michelangelo left... A breve documentary demonstrates before the beginning of the motion picture: The Pieta of St. Peter's; The Colossal David; and The Moses.
Pope John Paul II led a ceremony December ll, 1999 celebrating the completion of the two-decade restoration of the Sistine Chapel... Speaking haltingly, he said: 'This place dear to the world's faithful not only for the masterpieces it contains but also because of the role it plays in the life of the Church.'
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.
The feature obtained a limited success and had a moderated box-office , it is nowadays better valued . Acting by two principal actors is first-range , both of whom are magnificent . However , Rex Harrison did not get along with Charlton Heston at all during filming ; twelve years later, while filming ¨Crossed swords¨ , he avoided him completely . Leon Shamroy cinematography is rousing , the colorful paintings are glowing and glittering reflecting Bible's scenes . Alex North music is riveting (like ¨Spartacus¨ who he equally made). The sets are overwhelming and breathtaking , they were realized by John De Cuir as production designer . Carol Reed direction and production is excellent , he has got many experience with a long career and had directed other classics (The third man) . Rating: Very good, above average and well worth seeing.
It's certainly not that passion and creation are not here, it's just that they enrich the story about two men and their relationship. When Julius comes into the chapel in the middle of the night, and Michaelangelo is invariably there, there's a bond, even with silent incipient tension.
Heston is of course the only person for this role, as epics go, he's the best. For some reason he manages not to be overcome by the massive scale of these sorts of movies--something that happens to almost everyone else (look at Sinatra and Cary Grant in "the Pride and the Passion", they are totally lost in the grande scale, and they're the incomparable Grant and the larger than life Sinatra, not much more to be said there). Heston makes a solid tortured artist and Rex Harrison is quite wonderful as the Pope. He communicates the strength and intelligence of a Pope who loves art but must go to battle to preserve all that he holds dear. There's a scene when the Pope wants people to see the half completed chapel, since he has grown impatient with the time and when Michaelangelo bitterly objects, Harrison explodes with anger--extremely effective. When Harrison passed, it was truly a loss to movies.
There are flaws, no question, and it's not Heston's best work, course, once you've done Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments, nothing else is going to be your best work. The subplot with the sort of love interest is pretty silly, and it goes on a bit too long. The earnestness of the faith in the church, the sincerity of Heston when he says "Holiness" to the pope, a man that drives him crazy, is poignant. His faith is deep, almost as if he derives his love of art from a love of God. There are even some nice moments of levity as when a spattered Michaelangelo spits out a gob of paint and it lands near a watching Julius; or when the Pope creates a cardinal out of teen for payment in order to keep up the painting.
When it comes to big movies, this definitely lays with a handful of others that will never be surpassed--Titanic tried to be this kind of movie, and proves that even with $200 million and all the nifty gizmos of the modern age, it's very difficult to do; c'mon, Rex Harrison and Charlton Heston compared to Leo DeCaprio and Billy Zane--not much of a contest there.
See the movie, forgive it its flaws and appreciate the richness and nuance of the relationship between Pope and Artist.
The movie portrays Pope Julius II, "the warrior Pope" in good light. He took up the sword to finally bring an end to French interference in the papacy (cf. the "Babylonian Captivity" of the papacy in Avignon). And of course, despite the notorious division of Italy into city states, he struggled to free that country from foreign domination while keeping the papal states intact.
Rome is correctly shown as a city in decay during the Middle Ages. It took Julius II to finally build a Basilica worthy to be the focus of world Christianity. His patronage of the arts and of grand architecture enabled Rome to justly keep the title "The Eternal City."
In the end, Julius II may be judged as a competent monarch and in his way, a faithful priest who initiated many reforms to curb corruption among the clergy.
Heston and Harrison, both great actors, brought out the best in one another as they gamely sparred in this immortal film - one as the driven and haunted artist, the other as the saturnine Pope fighting to preserve the temporal power of the papacy against all odds.
So again, a bit lengthy, but still entertaining.
Coming with the American rush to "love art" in the 1950s and 60s (including the famous visit of the real Mona Lisa to America by boat), "The Agony and the Ecstasy" is a touchstone of how to make a hero of an artist and make him or her human, too. That's the key, you know--the artist has to be ribald and earthy but also transcendent, almost beyond his knowing.
That's the flawed paradigm at work here. We learn nothing about how Michelangelo's art was made--how it was painted. Nor how it was devised or inspired--the image of God in the clouds doesn't cut it for me. And we actually learn nothing about the real man--Charlton Heston's interpretation is fair enough, I suppose, but it's really just the necessary cliché of a talented (handsome) man tossed around by forced bigger than him.
What is supposed to drive the movie, and in a way saves it as a piece of entertainment, is the presence of the penny-pinching Pope, played by Rex Harrison (of "My Fair Lady" and "Julius Caesar" fame). His haranguing about the ceiling is blithe and fun. And Heston's complaining as he creates his masterpiece (with plaster dripping on his face--actually pudding in the shoot) is a foil for the Pope more than anything. Oddly, the Pope is a stronger character than the artist, and if history is at all right, we get the sense it was the other way around.
What is terrific about the movie is the set--a replica of the Sistine Chapel in a nearby movie studio. They gave them freedom to shoot it in all different phases of the painting, with and without scaffolding, night and day, and it's pretty marvelous to see it unfold in a way not so far from what must have been the truth.
Another bit of truth snuck in during these last days of the Hays Code: when someone comes looking for Michelangelo in the whore house, the prostitute goes hysterical laughing because, of course, he would never be found there. The artist was gay, and the world knew it then and knows it now, and the filmmakers get a clever wink in.
Another highlight is the incredible marble quarry in Carrara, a real place with what really is the best (seamless, pure, easily sculpted) marble in the world. Lucky it was nearby ancient and Renaissance Rome, both.
Don't avoid this movie at all, but don't expect anything truly penetrating. It's aggrandizing, it's formulaic, it's well filmed, and Harrison is in great form. But director Carol Reed ("The Third Man") chickened out a bit in a chance to push the boundaries a little harder.
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.
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.
And so it be that that is the often repeated exchange between Rex Harrison's Pope Julius II & Charlton Heston's Michelangelo, and thus we have the basis for the film version of Irving Stone's novel The Agony & The Ectasy. This is a fictionalised account of how Michelango came to paint his masterpiece on the roof of the Sistine chapel, focusing solely on the two main characters of the piece, The Agony & The Ectasy is a character and dialogue driven piece of work.
I'm not here to give you a history lesson on the Renaisssance painters or the background to Pope Julius II (The Warrior Pope) and his term of office, there are many well written comments on this site that revel in that side of things. I'm here purely as a lover of this film and to tell you that I do indeed love it regardless of the obvious historical failings. It spins a smashing story of two great men driven to distraction by each other on account of each respective man's blustery ego, both men seemingly failing to realise that what irks them so, does in fact flourish the soul. Thankfully the two lead actors here put up a special show to carry the film with ease, with both Heston & Harrison really getting their teeth into the roles to feed off of each other with quality results - with one scene having Michelangelo goad Julius off of his sick bed being particularly memorable.
The toil and time consuming lengths that Michelangelo went to finish the wondrous ceiling of the chapel is perfectly captured by the pacing from director Carol Reed, and it's within this mindset that I personally feel engrossed with the characters from beginning to end. Though it should be noted that the film is not without moments of humour, some scenes shaking you away from the men's battle of wills to bring dashes of levity. It's safe to say that one should avoid this film if they are after a searing costume drama infused with battles and death encompassing romances, this is purely for those after fine art, fine acting, and most of all, fine story telling. 8.5/10
The wonderful work of the dome of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, seen through a short period of the life of the teacher Miguel Angel .. A great script, perhaps to be a little to match the theme of the film, the relationship between man and religion, immense love for art and the struggle for power and that will transcend the human.
This was one of the last major confrontations film of all time: Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison. (Michelangelo and Julius II) locked in a struggle for blackmail purposes, extortionists, and almost amoral. Between Pope and warrior arbitrary and brazen genius and heartbreaking, this drama occurs artistic height, since the battle between drags us, nothing more, nothing less!, That so cool giant of the Sistine Chapel. Historical facts are parallel, the conception of the greatest work of art mural of history, and lost causes of a Pope who crowned his reign by fratricidal wars and some other slaughter. But Heston is the dream Michelangelo. And Harrison plays the most subtle and memorable of the Popes of that Roman curia, somewhere between the luxury of the Medici and the Renaissance genius. Carol Reed follows step by step each move of the two giants. The experience of the Sistine is brutal. It seems a reckoning with the history of art. But it exudes beauty from every pore.
This movie has two great performances by Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison in that bond between them by raising a wonderful work for posterity. The excellent soundtrack by Alex North and Carol Reed's superb work handling make this film also an opportunity to enjoy the art and sentiment approach in many of the scenes from the movie.
Charlton Heston has a granite face and monumental physique that suggests one of Michelangelo's sculptures, and, while he has on-screen presence, his acting range falls short of the demanding role of a tortured artist. Rex Harrison, on the other hand, is outstanding as the warrior pope, a complex man balancing spiritual and worldly ambitions. Fresh from an Academy Award nomination for his Julius Caesar in "Cleopatra" and a second nomination and the Oscar for his Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady," Harrison deserved a least a third nod for this film. The rest of the cast is adequate, although Diane Cilento, who does the best she can with a thankless role, is little more than a bone thrown to the female audience in what is essentially a male-centric drama. Michelangelo is among the world's most famous historical gay men, and, while Philip Dunne's screenplay alludes to the artist's sexuality, the script blurs the issue and sidesteps a direct confrontation; Cilento's ambiguous relationship with the artist was likely intended to throw off all but the most knowledgeable viewers.
Aside from Harrison's performance, "The Agony and the Ecstasy" is worthy viewing as a visual feast. Fresh from Oscar-winning work on "Cleopatra," the Twentieth Century Fox design team of John DeCuir and Jack Martin Smith stunningly recreated the ecclesiastical glory of 16th century Rome. Among other Oscar winners for "Cleopatra" were Vittorio Nino Novarese, whose costumes glow in reds, crimsons, and golds; and Leon Shamroy, whose color cinematography gloriously captures the period detail. A fine score by Alex North, another veteran of "Cleopatra," further enhances the visuals. Carol Reed's adaptation of "The Agony and the Ecstasy" is eye, and some times ear, candy, especially for those interested in art history; the scenes that detail the creation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling are particularly fascinating. However, beyond the visuals and an award-worthy performance by Rex Harrison, the film is thin on drama and weak on historical accuracy.
I cannot help being shell-shocked to see the reconstruction of the magnificent ceiling though recognizably most of which is the trickery of montage (not in the real the Sistine Chapel, the location was inside Cinecitta Italy instead), but bathing under the glamour and solemnness of the visual wonders, I am stunned to exude my admiration and awe!
The two leads conspicuously stimulate a Moses versus Caesar confrontation, Charlton Heston seems to be more boorish than artistic to manifest a struggled Michelangelo, may God doesn't distinguish his people by their looks. The "agony and ecstasy" is watered down to an underwhelming stalemate thanks to Charlton's outlandish incarnation as the most eminent artist of that time. Rex Harrison, is by far and large worthy another Oscar nomination for his arresting devotedness, which is apt to impress the audience with a mind-blowing bi-polar characterization while good and evil coexist at the same time.
The film was a grave box office fiasco when it came out in 1965, however, judging by my appraisement, its merits still can be appreciated by our generation (a well-balanced script, the haunting original score and all the props and settings). However, the film entirely skipped Michelangelo's sexual orientation and awkwardly ploys a portentous conversation between Michelangelo and his admirer Contessina de'Medici (a over-wise Diane Cilento), which unveiled its cowardliness and helplessness.
My final remark is that as time goes by ruthlessly, art stands still and never fades away, so lucky enough cinema is yet a part of it.
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY is a story of an artist, of his struggles, his pains, yet, a great passion that fulfills itself in the creative power of inspiration. It is a touching tale of a divine artist being put at the doorsteps of worldly might. It is a mesmerizing story of two worlds: the one which quickly receives its glory at once and the one which takes pains throughout the tedious way towards perfection. How then is it possible for the world of 'quick victories' not to ask impatiently: "When will you come to an end?" However, there appears to be something that may unite these worlds, the visions indicated in a beautiful scene...
Here, let me broaden the theme that I have just mentioned above. The figure of Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) appears to be clearly contrasted to the figure of Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison), not the pope of our modern understanding as a purely spiritual leader for some people, but a leader of the army, a warrior who never stops thinking that God is at his side. How, then, can the two understand each other? How can Michelangelo's subtle spirit of inspiration go with Julius' loud drums of battle field? Great, absolutely magnificent performances by Heston and Harrison highlight this aspect even more clearly in lots of memorable moments. They impact upon viewers powerfully.
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY is also a captivating story of jealousy, hostility, disapproval that a true artist must experience in order to get through the 'catharsis' towards perfection. Michelangelo is showed in his famous period of life (years 1508-1512) when he was painting his well known masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel in Rome. He is indefatigable in that search for beauty of inspiration and never ending capacity of creation, which is memorably proved by the last scene of the movie...
The performances are very good, but, as I have already mentioned: Heston and Harrison shine in their roles, not in terms of looks, since Rex Harrison's face, for instance, hardly resembles pope Julius' face that we know from the famous portrait by Raffaello Sanzio, but in terms of character portrayals. Other cast, including Harry Andrews in the role of Bramante and great Italian (Sicilian) actor Adolfo Celi as Giovanni Medici are memorable and accurate. They and most of the other supporting cast prove the fact that THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY was truly a valuable mutual undertaking. The visual aspect, though sometimes flawed, wins thanks to wonderful sets in picturesque locations of Umbrian and Tuscan landscapes.
In sum, the following reflection appeared after viewing the film: although true art appears to be vague for many, it steps powerfully throughout the ages of human history. That is why genius may sometimes be at the doorsteps of power in order to rise again being unpredictably given life by the Divine Hand. That is what we partly encounter in the glamor and splendor of the Sistine Chapel...
A good film deeply rooted in the pains of the artist but well understood when combined with the essence of Michelangelo's masterpiece.
Julius's zeal for the power and glory of the Papal States also led him to conceive an ambitious building scheme to make Rome the greatest city in Europe, including the rebuilding of St Peter's Basilica and the patronage of artists whom he used to decorate his new buildings. The Sistine Chapel was not one of his creations- it had been built by his uncle Sixtus IV- but he wanted to use it as a showpiece of the splendours of his papacy.
Michelangelo, as played by Charlton Heston, is as stubborn and obstinate as Julius. He is initially reluctant to take on the Sistine Chapel commission because he sees himself primarily as a sculptor rather than a painter. Unlike the Pope he is a genuinely religious man, and has no problem with working to the greater glory of God, but fears that in painting the chapel he will be working to the greater glory of Pope Julius. He knows, however, that an outright refusal would be dangerous; at one point Julius shouts "He will paint it or he will hang!" When Michelangelo does start work he proves an obsessive perfectionist, working very slowly and answering Julius's insistent question "When will it be finished" with the equally insistent answer "When it is ready!" Yet, despite their differences, a certain respect and understanding does grow up between the two.
I would agree with the reviewer who said that the film's main weakness is that it is essentially a two-man show that does not arouse too much in the way of dramatic tension. Yet those two men are both very good, with acting honours going, perhaps surprisingly, to Rex Harrison, an actor who has not always been my favourite. He could at times appear too casual and laid back, and must be counted very fortunate to have won his "Best Actor" Oscar for "My Fair Lady" (too old and can't sing) against the likes of Richard Burton, Anthony Quinn and Peter Sellars. Here, however, he is masterful as the cynical and worldly Pontiff. Heston's performance as Michelangelo works well in the context of the film, although he has been criticised for not giving a true picture of the artist's character; Michelangelo was far from the tall, handsome, virile man portrayed here, and is generally believed by historians to have been gay. Homosexuality, of course, was still taboo in the cinema of 1965, so a heterosexual love-interest is provided for the artist in the shape of the beautiful Contessina de'Medici, played by Diane Cilento aka Mrs Sean Connery.
The film was directed by the great Carol Reed, who brings to it a certain look of a Renaissance painting with striking colours. Heston was perhaps best-known for his work in the epic style ("The Ten Commandments", "Ben-Hur", etc), and at times Reed seems to be striving to lend this film something of the feel of an epic, particularly in the battle scenes and those set in the stone quarries, where the cutting of marble is shown as a work of heroic labour, comparable to something like the building of the pyramids. I would not rate the film quite as highly as something like Minnelli's "Lust for Life" about Van Gogh, but despite its dramatic weaknesses "The Agony and the Ecstasy" is one of the cinema's more interesting attempts to explore the nature of artistic creativity. 7/10
The movie, The Agony and the Ecstasy, was fairly accurate to history. Of course, there are a few changes made in the movie to increase the entertainment value. In the film it is implied that Michelangelo had a relationship with one of the Medici sisters. However, there is no such account given in the historical record, so we presume it to be Hollywood-ized romance. The historical truth is that Michelangelo was a devout Christian, with no record of an intimate relationship. It appeared that a lot of time was spent in studying the era of the time to create the costumes, especially those of church officials. They wore very detailed and symbolic robes and gowns.
As far as the Sistine Chapel looked, it was well done in that it looked comparable to the one in real life. In the storyline, Michelangelo's work is delayed three times, as the Pope doesn't have funds to pay him. In our research though, we could not find any evidence of the three uncommisions. European wars were accurate and actually had the Pope in the battle field, which was accurate because he was known as the "Warrior Pope". We found it interesting that Pope Julius II called Michelangelo 'Buonarroti'; nevertheless, it is part of the painter's name. In the film, Michelangelo gets upset and destroys some of his work which is also true. Church officials criticized Buonarroti's work saying that the pictures painted were indecent. As far as the main character, Charlton Hesston looked way too good for a man who never bathed or shaved. We found the Pope and Michelangelo's love/hate relationship quite entertaining! ("When will you make an end?" "When I am finished!" - A funny 4 year long argument). The best entertainment was Michelangelo's fall from the ceiling. It was extremely dramatized and very amusing! Some themes throughout the movie were: 'the world is not alone' which was brought to our attention when Michelangelo sits pondering atop a mountain. The clouds are shaped in the form of God; thus 'the world is not alone'. It was also symbolic when Michelangelo was struggling and not satisfied with his work. So he takes time off (actually fleeing) to consider what would really be of useful meaning for the painting of the Sistine Chapel 'Meditation brings inspiration'. Michelangelo really focuses on the fact that "God created man in his own image"- (that's why Michelangelo painted his models nude).