• The Agony and the Ecstasy

    1965. Great Britain. Carol Reed. 138 min.

Friday, March 21, 2008, 5:30 p.m.

Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1

  • The Agony and the Ecstasy

    1965. Great Britain. Directed by Carol Reed. With Rex Harrison, Charlton Heston, Diane Cilento, Harry Andrews, Adolfo Celi. Films honoring and documenting painters have had a long and rich tradition, from Charles Laughton's Rembrandt and Jean Renoir's homages to his father Pierre-Auguste (A Day in the Country, Picnic on the Grass); to gobs of Van Goghs; Salma Hayek's Frida Kahlo; and, most recently, Alexander Sokurov's magnificent single-take tour of the Hermitage in Russian Ark. The saga of Michelangelo's struggle with the Sistine Chapel, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Harrison's reunion with Reed, is marred by a disappointing script, intrusive dubbing, a coyness about Michelangelo's sexuality, and the performances of some of the actors. These shortcomings are somewhat offset by veteran cinematographer Leon Shamroy's Cinerama-inspired camera movements. Ultimately, the film is rewarding for Harrison's rakish incarnation of warrior-pope Julius II, who goads Heston into completing his masterwork (like a Renaissance studio executive with far more charm than those of the twentieth century). The film is preceded by a short that Twentieth Century Fox released for those unfamiliar with Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. 138 min.

In the Film exhibition Rex Harrison: A Centenary Tribute

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