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 is commissioned by the warrior Pope to decorate his ceiling. Michelangelo doesn't want to do it, but the Pope wins that battle, the first of many, for the two men are equally matched in their stubbornness and pride. The work is detailed against the backdrop of Julius' many military battles and we learn a lot about life during the Renaissance.
Both Michelangelo and Julius are portrayed as stiff-necked, driven men who use reverse-psychology on each other to get what they want. We learn a great deal about Julius as a man, but less about Michelangelo. These are bravura 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. Very enjoyable.