The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Agony and the Ecstasy

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Despite the grueling physical demands involved, renowned Renaissance artist Michelangelo spends more than four years creating the Sistine Chapel's spectacular ceiling fresco. All the while, he questions his own religious views and battles with the man who commissioned him, Pope Julius II.
Copyright Date: ©2014
Branch Call Number: BLU AGO
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (138 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
digital,optical
videodisc
video file,Blu-Ray

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EvanSchoenfeld
Sep 15, 2019

The range of Michelangelo’s aesthetic appreciation was limited to the point of subhumanity—yes, if dogs painted the Sistine Chapel it would be covered with bones, but we expect variety from supposed great artists. Nevertheless ‘Agony’ is yet another great movie about painters, and deals with M. B.’s limitations as much as his talents. Heston’s bombastic swagger is aptly deployed when he isn’t confessing to Diane Cilento that marriage and family may not be the way for him. Harrison embodies sophistication, authority and scariness as Julius, even if the glint in his eye seems too humorous. Handling adult issues in coded form used to be such an elaborate discipline, it’s too bad few viewers are still capable of admiring it. Director Carol Reed also gave us “The Third Man,” number one best film ever.

a
akirakato
Apr 13, 2019

Directed by Carol Reed in 1965 partly based on Irving Stone's biographical novel of the same name, this American epic docudrama depicts the conflicts of Michelangelo and Pope Julius II during the painting of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.
Superb are the performances of Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II.
However, it would appear more exciting if the film contained less dialogues, short lecture and more actions.

r
richibi
Apr 10, 2019

worth it only for the superb cinematography, its views of the awesome Sistine Chapel and other papal artworks - otherwise, the script is risible, the acting eminently forgettable

Of course the acting and script are dated. The movie skirts political controversy but for its time this is an excellent movie. It would be a fascinating project to re-write the story with 21st century subtly and nuance. A good movie to introduce adolescents to the world of classical art and autocratic political systems in European history.

n
Nursebob
Dec 13, 2014

A wonderfully old-fashioned costume epic depicting the titanic battle of egos waged between Michelangelo, “the sculptor who never wanted to be a painter”, and Julius II, the “warrior pope”, who commissioned the reluctant artist to adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Often filmed high atop his elaborate scaffolding surrounded by swirling saints, Michelangelo wrestles with issues of faith and artistic license while Julius, firmly rooted on the ground, struggles to keep the Church alive and solvent while engaged in a war against France; but the two men meet their greatest match, both spiritually and temperamentally, in each other. In the roles of Pontiff and Painter, Rex Harrison and Charlton Heston are perfectly paired (although Heston occasionally lapses into his “Moses” persona), while a soaring orchestral score and sumptuous widescreen cinematography keep things appropriately grand; candlelit scenes of those famous frescoes in the process of becoming are especially well done. An engaging piece of cinema exploring faith, duty, and the inherent suffering of the artist.

z
zmulla
Feb 27, 2011

to recommend to Farah as its about Michael Angelo and the Sistine Chapel

s
stuvw27
Jan 21, 2011

Not director Carol Reed's finest hour. "I cannot give you mediocre," Michelangelo says to Pope Julius II when discussing the painting of the Sistine ceiling. That may have been the case for him in the 16th century but certainly not for movie viewers in the 20th. This superficial hokum boasts a story so sketchy that real acting only gets in the way of the posturing proclamations of the characters. The film is shot in the widescreen Todd-AO process but it appears that the director had no good idea of how to use the widescreen to enhance a story that just about screams for it. Fortunately, someone else (probably cinematographer Leon Shamroy) does have at least an idea and gets it across a few times, generally combined with mattes and other special effects. For example, toward the end of the film there is one nice twisting shot of the nearly finished Sistine ceiling that uses the wide screen to give the viewer a hint of the real experience. Unfortunately, this camera work is all but overpowered by relentless, overloud, "awe-inspiring" music. Elsewhere, the music is not quite as over-the-top but it does give pause to hear the popular 13th century saltarello in a 16th century context. (This is about like a rap singer doing "Oh! Susanna" in a remake of "2001: A Space Odyssey.") Meanwhile, the ridiculous tacked on "love story" is laughable in any century with the love-interest done up in such typical 1960s style that she is more than reminiscent of another interstellar conquest of Captain Kirk than a highborn woman of the Italian Renaissance.

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