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The Agony and the Ecstasy/L'extase et l'agonie (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]

Charlton Heston    Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 25.99
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Frequently Bought Together

The Agony and the Ecstasy/L'extase et l'agonie (Bilingual) [Blu-ray] + Far And Away (Bilingual) [Blu-Ray + UltraViolet Copy] (Version française) + Somewhere In Time [Blu-ray + UltraViolet Copy] (Sous-titres français)
Price For All Three: CDN$ 51.93

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Product Description


Carol Reed (The Third Man) directed this 1965 portrait of the relationship between Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) and Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison), who commissioned the artist to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Based on a novel by Irving Stone, the script plods along, juggling the dynamics between the two men along with a somewhat perfunctory love story and distracting battle sequences. Reed seems more attuned to the nuances and great pains of the artistic process, as seen in sequences of Michelangelo working. But the overall focus of the film is unfortunately fuzzy. --Tom Keogh

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's only painted plaster, Your Holiness." June 15 2006
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I planned a ceiling, he planned a miracle" May 15 2004
Format:VHS Tape
There is no other film on the subject of art that is better than this one in my opinion. Irving Stone's best-seller was a great read, but in this case the film is better than the book. It centers on the creation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the contentious but invigorating relationship between Michelangelo and Pope Julius II; one drove the other "to complete his work", and even their verbal battles were productive. It is about the courage of putting one's vision into reality, the hard work, and the faith in one's self and in God.
The script by Irving Stone and Philip Dunne is fabulous; the words flow like sweet wine and there is not a single unnecessary scene, or rarely one that is not meaningful. The direction by Carol Reed is meticulous, the cinematography by Leon Shamroy a marvel, and the score by Alex North adds much to the film. The costuming and sets are lavish for the papal quarters and the Medici household, and give one a sense of 16th century Rome, and the depictions of the fresco painting technique is interesting and educational.
Charlton Heston, gaunt and bearded, is brilliant as Michelangelo, as is Rex Harrison as the warrior pope. The interactions of these two actors is riveting, and the dialogue between them worth hearing repeatedly. Others of note in the cast include Diane Cilento as the Contessina de Medici, Harry Andrews as Bramante, and Tomas Milian as Raphael (the most famous papal portrait I know of is by Raphael, of Pope Julian II).
Though Stone's book and script take much artistic license, there is also a good deal of accuracy. This period of 16th century Italy was one of the most fascinating in all world history, and Pope Julius II was not only one of its greatest art patrons, but also an extraordinary man.
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By Nix Pix
After a decade of declining profits in Hollywood where Biblical epics were concerned, Twentieth Century Fox's "The Agony and The Ecstasy" (1966) managed to recapture much of the glory, if not the box office, of that sort of 50s storytelling without getting too religous. Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison star as two of the Renaissance's most explosive and emotional titans; the great sculptor/painter, Michelangelo and Pope Julius II. Julius is a tyrannical, often crass, dictator who's true aspirations are for the ultimate glory of Rome and preservation of the Catholic church. To this end he will stop at nothing to inspire his people and ignite controversy amongst the clergy. Michelangelo's career as sculptor par excellence is sidetracked when Julius orders him to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. "But I'm not a painter," Michelangelo explains. All evidence to the contrary.
The battle of wills that ensues is heavy on melodrama but rather flat on inspiration. As Michelangelo, Heston is solid, stoic and virtuous - a sort of Moses with a paint brush. What he ultimately lacks is any real conviction as one of the artsy set. Also, knowning as we do today that Michelangelo was not interested in women romantically, per say, Heston's faux romance with Contessina de Medici (Diane Cilento) is grossly misleading from a historical perpsective. What is compelling about this sometimes stagy, rather long-winded film is the way in which Heston and Harrison's unique acting styles spar off of one another. Director, Carol Reed, whose greatest contribution to cinema will forever be "The Third Man", on this occasion, fills the vast expanse of Panavision with lush photographic set pieces that strangely are cold and disengaging.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Art vs Commerce Oct. 28 2003
Format:VHS Tape
What I found fascinating was the PROLOGUE: "The Man Who Didn't Want to Paint." This would normally be an "extra" on any DVD (unfortunately, so far, no DVD of the feature has been released). It is here on the VHS tape, as part of the feature. It runs about 20 minutes, but one should not fast-forward through it. It is fascinating, and adds tremendoubly to the enjoyment of the main feature. In fact, movie channels sometimes run this as a featurette without running the full film. And that's just fine with me.
Also, one should see this film in the "Letterbox" format to get the true scope of what director Reed was trying to present. "Full Frame" or "pan and scan" versions add electronic edits where none existed in the original and can chop up a film unnecessarily.
True, this feature reads like a "Reader's Digest" version of the life of Michaelangelo; a sort of "highlights" of the man's life. It does heavily concentrate on the on-again, off-again relationship with Pope Julius II, and sllows Harrison do drop in his deliciously dead-pan one-liners.
Should a new version of Michaelangelo's life be filmed (perhaps as a miniseries)? Most definately. Should an actor who more resembled the artist be cast? Yes. But, remember that AGONY was filmed in the 1960s and star power was the order of the day. Heston was hot; so was Harrison (My Fair Lady). Mr. Heston, however, has left, in print, his impressions (not all of them flattering) of both Harrison and Mr. Reed in his DIARIES. Sometimes, they make more interesting entertainment than the movie, itself.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars These were the times
One of those mammoth movies produced in the period when Giant Actors roamed the Earth. One cannot rekindle that spirit and that creativity in our modern times. Read more
Published 5 months ago by michel laverdiere
5.0 out of 5 stars L'extase et l'agonie
Excellent film qui retrace l'histoire de Michelange, ses créations monumentales, le David et les peintures
de la Chapelle Sixtine de Rome qui sont absolument... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gaziglia Gerard
5.0 out of 5 stars A window to the past!
My wife and I spent 3 months in Italy a few years ago and plan on spending 3 months in Florence this winter so we really enjoyed the movie having read the book(which is much better... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars watch it for the art
the painstaking recreation of the sistine chaple was a feat within itself and is wonderfully executed. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars MORE AGONY THAN ECSTASY
"When will you make it end?" Alas, thus whines Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) at poor Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) several times during this two hour-plus bore. Read more
Published on March 29 2003 by Joseph Murillo
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and gripping, despite fictionalization.
I took a course about Michaelangelo and bought this film right afterwards. Despite the film's fictionalized aspects, the picture created in me a living image of this great master... Read more
Published on March 2 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Art: Charlton Heston Is Michaelangelo
1965: Carol Reed, director of "The Third Man" produces a superb film about the life of the Renaissance master artist and sculptor, Michaelangelo, based on the novel by... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2003 by Rachel Garret
1.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Junk
Charlton Heston was as best wooden, and if you are educated enough to know the real, not the Hollywood interpretation on the life of Michelangelo you will of course know that it... Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2002 by ken Ramsey
5.0 out of 5 stars the agony and the ecstasy
i first saw this as a high school student. didn't appreciate it very much at that time. yet, after seeing this again 30 years after, then and only then did i fully appreciate it. Read more
Published on March 25 2002 by gloria salvador
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