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.
Irving Stone (novel "The Agony and the Ecstasy"); Philip Dunne (screen story); Philip Dunne (screenplay).
Charlton Heston (Michelangelo); Rex Harrison (Pope Julius II); Diane Cilento (Contessina de'Medici); Harry Andrews (Bramante); Alberto Lupo (Duke of Urbino); Adolfo Celi (Giovanni de' Medici); Venantino Venantini (Paris De Grassis); John Stacy (Sangallo); Fausto Tozzi (Foreman); Maxine Audley (Woman); Tomas Milian (Raphael). Please contact SFC to add other cast members and characters.
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Mark Banks (United Kingdom)
Having been to Rome only a few weekends ago and seen the Sistine Chapel in all her glory, this film jumped a few places on my priorities-to-watch list. And I'm glad it did because the film was really good; so much so it's made it into my Top-100. Having laboured away full-time on this website for the past nine-months I can only begin to relate to the patience and perseverance it took Michelangelo to complete his work. But the nonetheless, relate I can, and I'd highly recommend this film to anybody struggling to see their dream come to fruition. In addition to the affirming messages the film communicates, I thought the acting was good, the sets good too and the digital-reproduction on the DVD I watched was excellent. On top of all of that the screenplay stayed faithful in acknowledging the primacy of the hand of God in the creation of the glorious and majestic work of art that is the Sistine Chapel... I love the moment when Michelangelo sees the outline of The Creation of Adam painting in the clouds, with the Mighty Lord reaching out His finger to man - truly inspired from the heavens above!