The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) from 20th Century Fox
Not Rated. Drama, Biography/Historical, Faith Elements, Epic

Five Gold Stars

Pope Julius II, as played by Rex Harrison: “I planned a ceiling. He plans a miracle.”

Well. This majestic piece of cinema with the iconic Charlton Heston certainly aided my imagination: an upgrade from vaguely picturing Michelangelo all alone on an insanely tall wooden ladder or somehow suspended in air as he paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I never clearly considered how he might’ve practically pulled off such a feat, but artistic assistants and special scaffolding makes sense. 🙂

I was all in before the Intermission, when inspiration strikes the artist–in the loud, dramatic, over the top fashion that these epic films own and unabashedly deliver. A true vision: just what an artist needs to make a wonder, as artists do.

I figured what was coming as soon as I saw Contessina’s face. “Right. Enter the Token Lady,” I thought, as I knew a film of its kind wouldn’t at least take a stab at a passionate romance somewhere in there, but she turns out not to be so merely inevitable, and when her character needs to bring it, she brings it. I agree with her about the agony and the ecstasy of love, but not with her final line or two in the movie. Though, yes, there are indeed different kinds of love and passion, different avenues of expressing them, of putting passion into action, so much so that the outcome is bigger than the individual.

The Pope and the artist have quite the exchanges, as well as egos so inflated I was sure one or the other of them would break through the television screen if they expanded any further, but they’re played so well together that I can forgive the men for it, even as I forgive Michelangelo for being sexist, whether intentionally or jokingly.

And, hey, the handful of moments of blatant comedy were unexpected and duly welcomed by me.

Hearing the title The Agony and the Ecstasy for years, I always assumed it was a movie about the Crucifixion. (Just a sidenote, there.)

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