The Michelangelo biopic The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) starring Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison is now streaming on Netflix Instant.
Director: Carol Reed.
Stars: Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison and Diane Cilento.
Running time: 138 minutes.
Plot: Frustrated sculptor Michelangelo (Heston) is forced to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Pope Julius II (Harrison).
The Bottom Line: This is a prestige production that moves along slowly by modern standards, but the film is still a joy to watch largely for the performances of Harrison and Heston. Harrison gives one of the best performances of his long career as Pope Julius, playing the stubborn and willful pontiff as an Italian second cousin to his iconic portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964). The strongest moments of the film are the verbal sparring matches between Julius, a pontiff who isn't afraid to use his spiritual influence to gain earthly power, and the equally stubborn Michelangelo, who refuses to compromise his artistic vision for lesser mortals.