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A Review of the Movie "Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)"

Nyamweya is a columnist with a Kenyan print media.He is also a freelance writer with various online and offline media platforms


The movie, the Agony and Ecstacy was adopted by Dunne from the novel that was composed by Stone Irving. It is an ancient story depicting the struggle by two opposition, that is Michelangelo and Julius 11 as Rex Harrision. In this movie, Michalangelo made to paint a religious wall on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, A liberal Michelangelo objects to the task . He is however coerced into accepting the task by Pope Julius II who wanted to leave a legacy from that painting.

The Role of Michelangelo in the movie Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

The movie starts with an introduction to Michelangelo. The photo man takes as first to the city of Florence, the Vatican City, to Florence, and to another small town called Tuscany: The biography of Michelangelo from the movie depicts that he was born in this small town of Tuscany.His childhood talent was carving stones. While still young, he went to a town named Florence and this is the place he was taught the art of painting which he concentrated and liked very much. However, he changed the trade into sculpture making which he equally liked.His first sculptor work was called The Madonna of the Steps, and he had created it when he was merely 15 years of age. From this first work, he went on to make other sculptors such as those of King David and also the image of st Peter. The latter was commissioned by his eminent Pope Julius II.

From this movie, it is found that Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) does not appear as a very good or holy father as it may be generally assumed, he is depicted as a pope who likes shielding himself and he is very much cautious on many things including imagined enemies. After winning a major war, he returns to Rome while still holding his armory. This character is further portrayed when he turns back a dissatisfied French diplomat and deal ruthlessly with his cardinals. By meeting Michelangelo who he is informed as the sculptor, he commissions him to build him a tomb at st Peter’s square. However, Michelangelo does not readily accept and gives his point of objection to make: That the pope had never paid him his dues from previous works. The pope further ignores his complains and tries to woo Michelangelo into accomplishing this task. At some time, the pope encounters a poem Written by Michalangelo concerning his negative conducts.

At this point Michelangelo is horrified, horrified because he is not a painter but sculptor. One thing however to be noted is that he had learnt painting at younger age and had proven to be very excellent at it. Unfortunately, painting was not at his blood and there is no way he could do it.

Other Casts

The other cast in this movie include Rex Harrison, Diane Cilento and Harry Andrews.

What is positive about the movie?

I liked most of the happenings on this movie. The acting by Michelangelo was very appealing to my eyes. Also the frequent confrontations of Michalangelo and the Pope depict many things on the behaviors of the two protagonists.

Another point is about the creativity of the movie, in terms of humor, this is presented in a very interesting manner.

What is negative about the movie?

W e are not told much on the background of the main characters that is Michalangelo and pope Julius II. Hence we can’t know much on their personal life or even their profession. Also the role of some minor characters such as Contessina is not properly portrayed in the movie.

Insights from the movie

I had heard something about the movie on the Agony and Ecstasy and by watching the film, everything in the play seems to be accurate from my point of view. And although it may not be very accurate in every detail, it must however be understood that theater has no much rules as in journalism or any other writing fields.

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