The Agony and the Ecstasy

Director: Carol Reed
Year Released: 1965
Rating: 1.5

Super perfectionist genius Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) clashes repeatedly with Warrior Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) over his commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - the Pope says, 'do it my way' and the artist says 'no!,' the Pope asks 'when will it be done?' and the artist answers 'when it's done!': imagine this transpiring for a feature length film and you get the gist without even watching it. The constant clashing/bickering between Heston and Harrison - not to mention the overly-dramatized self-torture on behalf of Heston's character - is simply tiring, and the need to have Michelangelo with a 'love interest' (Diane Cilento) belies the reality of Michelangelo's actual life - Irving Stone, as with Lust for Life, enjoys turning biography into heavy, sweating soap operas (or, at the very least, that's how Hollywood interprets the books). The opening fifteen minute documentary component to this, reinforcing the prodigious gifts of the Florentine master, is totally superfluous and it goes without saying that the Sistine Chapel and the statue of David (to name two priceless works of art) demand to be viewed in person.