Movie Mars

The Agony and the Ecstasy DVD

Much of what appeared in Irving Stone's biographical novel of the life of Michelangelo was of the author's invention, but few will dispute that the artist painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which is the subject of Carol Reed's film. Starring Charlton Heston as the irascible genius, it traces his life from the age of 13 to his death at 88 but deals mainly with the five years during which he painted the chapel. Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) has commissioned the work in the hope that it will serve as an immortal symbol of his enlightened papacy. Yet both his money and remaining years are finite, and his constant haranguing of the artist to finish his painstaking work is the source of an ongoing war of words between them. When not struggling with the pope, Michelangelo battles with his physical limitations and recalcitrant materials in the quest for perfection. The multifaceted Carol Reed (OLIVER!, THE THIRD MAN) has successfully taken on yet another genre in a film that also features superb art direction and costume design.
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