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Monday, June 29, 2015

The Agony And The Ecstasy (1965)

When the Florentine sculptor Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) is summoned by the Pope (Rex Harrison) to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he protests as he considers himself a sculptor and not a painter. But the Pope persists and the animosity between the two men is center stage as Michelangelo reluctantly takes on the project. Based on the novel by Irving Stone, who had previously written LUST FOR LIFE about Vincent Van Gogh. He's not so lucky this time around. The film makers have attempted to make an Epic out of what should have been a simple film. To that end, there's a lot of bloat in the film. The film begins with a 10 minute prologue discussing Michelangelo's work (which presumes its audience has no idea who the man was!) before the opening titles. There was no "romance" in Michelangelo's life so an unrequited romantic relationship has been concocted in the form of Diane Cilento as a Contessa that is unnecessary and could easily have been eliminated. The film has an intermission at the 1 hour mark. With the fat trimmed, the film could have easily run under two hours. As written here, there's no way poor Heston could have salvaged Michelangelo. At least, covered in paint and sweat he looks the role. Harrison barks his way through the film and comes off somewhat better. Visually it's quite handsome and there's a majestic underscore by Alex North. Directed by Carol Reed who would recover nicely with his next film, OLIVER! With Harry Andrews, Tomas Milian, Maxine Audley and Adolfo Celi. 

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