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, already an established sculptor, is commissioned by the warrior Pope to decorate his ceiling. Michelangelo doesn't want to do it, preferring to concentrate on the 40 statues intended for Julius' tomb. 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. There is a relationship with Michelangelo's childhood friend, the Countess of Medici, that shows his single-minded devotion to his craft.
Both Michelangelo and Julius are portrayed as stiff-necked, driven men who use reverse-psychology on each other to get what they want. The dialogue is literate and yet each line is delivered like a grand speech. We learn a great deal about Julius as a man and not as much 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. I enjoyed the film almost as much as Irving Stone's novel, and that's saying a lot.
What's the film about? The story of the painting of the Sistine Chapel find Charlton Heston playing yet another iconic historic figure, Michelangelo. The story is based on the novel by Irving Stone the story follows the life of Michelangelo and his concludes with his painting of the Sistine Chapel. Who was the classic actor/actress? Charlton Heston plays Michelangelo and Rex Harrison plays Pope Julius II. Were they lovers? … more