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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 2 May 2017
Great film
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on 21 June 2017
Rex Harrison. That is all.
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on 5 June 2017
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on 11 March 2017
I've seen this wonderful movie so many times I've lost count, ranging from a dreadful print broadcast on TV to VHS and DVD. I just finished watching the Blu Ray for the first time, and - as is the case with so many old movies now restored on Blu Ray - it's like seeing it for the first time. Stunning picture quality that jumps out of the screen. This must have been what it was like to see it in a cinema in 1965.

The mini-documentary at the start is fabulous, perhaps the commentary is a little verbose by today's standards. But Jerry Goldsmith's (uncredited) music behind the opening documentary is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written for film. It always brings me to tears.

Watching this great film before going to Rome and seeing the Sistine Chapel is wonderful. It shows you how the ceiling was painted, shows you what the Papacy was like during the High Renaissance, and most of all, it shows you what the ceiling looked like before its stunning restoration. You really appreciate how special the restoration was, and how it changed our perception of Michelangelo's painting technique. High quality photos of the original ceiling, taken in the mid-60's, were used to decorate the incredible replica chapel built for the film, and the difference between what we see in the film and what we see today in the real Sistine Chapel is phenomenal.

Of course this is mainly a fictional movie, but what a terrific way to spend a Friday or Saturday night. The screenplay is intelligent, the acting first class from everyone. It's a pity the decision was made in 1965 to dub over the Italian actor's voices with American voices; this has always been my only complaint with this film. The sets are breathtaking. The above mentioned Sistine Chapel replica must be one of the best sets ever built. Every detail is exact, even the damp, mouldy ceiling before Michelangelo got to it is shown, and the marble pavement of the floor. The exterior location is gorgeous, I'd love to find the town where that piazza is! It really shows that 16th century Rome wasn't what we see today.

To summarise, this is a great epic movie that was made at a time when big historical epics were commonplace, where no expense was spared in order to dazzle the viewer. It makes a welcome change to the superhero, CGI obsessed movies of today.
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on 12 July 2017
The thing about great epics is that they have this unique unrepeatable quality that leaves one immediately aware of having just watched a classic; be it, the evident extra depths of thought put into the script, the casting and acting, the plot and pretty much every element combined to making something everlasting, exactly that. Almost undefinable. This epic is no different. It scores top marks on every level. Charlton Heston is excellent as Michelangelo - completely immersed in his art, and driven to the edges of exhaustion, he would let no man or thing get in the way of his work. Rex Harrison, as the Pope, a possibly unlikely casting, is very good, in his expressions and strength shown, when dealing with the tempestuous artist. The result, is a clash of two very different men, serving God with the individual skills with which they have been blessed, having to struggle head, forging a path together, in a subject that requires joint service on varying levels of participation. The war taking place outside the city, seems an appropriate backdrop, subtly reflecting the ensuing battle of wills, taking centre stage, between the 'Servant of the Servants of God' and the inspired hand of God - tasked with a little more than first imagined. Ironically, the one area that has been the cause of so many emotions running dramatically high, might end up being the only place of solace, where intellect and reflection, converge.
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on 24 July 2017
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 September 2014
When I am finished!

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
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This fictionalized account of the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling focuses on the battle of wills between the artist, Michelangelo (Charlton Heston), and his patron, Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison). As the story opens, Michelangelo, already an established sculptor, is commissioned by the warrior Pope to decorate his ceiling. Michelangelo doesn't want to do it, preferring to concentrate on the 40 statues intended for Julius' tomb. But the Pope wins that battle, the first of many, for the two men are equally matched in their stubbornness and pride. Renaissance Rome is finely recreated with great sets and costumes, not to mention the step-by-step painting of the ceiling.

Both Michelangelo and Julius are portrayed as stiff-necked, driven men who use reverse-psychology on each other to get what they want. The dialogue is literate, but each line is delivered like a grand speech. We learn a great deal about Julius as a man and not as much about Michelangelo. These are great performances by Heston and Harrison; they play men with monumental egos and ambitions but infuse them with human faults and foibles. A wonderful documentary over-view of Michelangelo's work that precedes the film would have been better at the end. I enjoyed the film almost as much as Irving Stone's novel, and that's saying a lot.
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on 2 June 2004
There is no other film on the subject of art that is better than this one in my opinion. Irving Stone's best-seller was a great read, but in this case the film is better than the book. It centers on the creation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the contentious but invigorating relationship between Michelangelo and Pope Julius II; one drove the other "to complete his work", and even their verbal battles were productive. It is about the courage of putting one's vision into reality, the hard work, and the faith in one's self and in God.
The script by Irving Stone and Philip Dunne is fabulous; the words flow like sweet wine and there is not a single unnecessary scene, or rarely one that is not meaningful. The direction by Carol Reed is meticulous, the cinematography by Leon Shamroy a marvel, and the score by Alex North adds much to the film. The costuming and sets are lavish for the papal quarters and the Medici household, and give one a sense of 16th century Rome, and the depictions of the fresco painting technique is interesting and educational.
Charlton Heston, gaunt and bearded, is brilliant as Michelangelo, as is Rex Harrison as the warrior pope. The interactions of these two actors is riveting, and the dialogue between them worth hearing repeatedly. Others of note in the cast include Diane Cilento as the Contessina de Medici, Harry Andrews as Bramante, and Tomas Milian as Raphael (the most famous papal portrait I know of is by Raphael, of Pope Julian II).
Though Stone's book and script take much artistic license, there is also a good deal of accuracy. This period of 16th century Italy was one of the most fascinating in all world history, and Pope Julius II was not only one of its greatest art patrons, but also an extraordinary man.
This is a film that moves me to tears with its beauty, and brightens my mind with its words. If you are interested in the artistic process, don't miss this magnificent film.
The film includes a Prologue, a mini-documentary of modern-day Rome and Florence, which traces Michelangelo's life, from his birth in Tuscany in 1475, showing his many wondrous works, including an early sculpture he did at the age of 15, through his death in 1564. Total running time is 139 minutes.
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on 23 August 2005
This 1965 production of the "Agony and the Ectasy" an expensive production starring Charlton Heston as Michael Angelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II is a very interesting example of the Hollywood movie making formula of the early 1960ths.
Adaptad by Philip Dunne from a novel by Irwing Stone the film
focus on the period of Michael Angelo's life during wich he painted the Sistine Chapel and explores his turbulent relationship with Pope Julius II. Although it may not be exact from an historical point of view constitutes nevertheless a wonderful piece of entertainment directed by veternan brithish director Carol Reed (The Third Man) with a second unit team by Robert D. Webb (Love Me Tender)and a wonderful cinemathography by Leon Shamroy (nominated for an academy award for this film!)
"The Agony and the Ectasy" is the kind of Hollywood epic that exibits superior production values and carismathic actors that will give the audience the felling of experiencing a special event. Essential purchase!
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