Film Discussion: The Agony & the Ecstasy (Italy)

Cinema Stats
  • Year: 1965
  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: NR
  • Length: 2 hours, 18 minutes
  • Stars: Charlton Heston & Rex Harrison
  • Major Awards: Nominated
    • Academy Awards: Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound, & Music
    • Golden Globe: Actor (Harrison) & Screenplay
  • Based on a novel by Irving Stone
Cher’s Final Ratings:

Film Discussion: Art and Italy

When I fell in love with Italy!

First, let me boldly say that I’m unabashedly biased toward this film and get something new out of it every time I watch it. I fell in love with this film, and the book by the same name, when I read it in 1965 as a college freshman. It opened me to the life and times of Michelangelo and Renaissance Italy, and it is a love affair with the artist and the country that I hold to this day!

When asked for my favorite country to visit in the whole world, I answer “ITALY!” without a moment’s hesitation!

Florence & Rome

Set primarily in Rome and Florence, the viewer gets an in-depth peek at these cities which are as relevant for art, history and culture today as they were 500 years ago.

Sistine Ceiling

The main theme of the movie captures the four to five years during which strong-willed Michelangelo was forced by the fiery Pope Julius II to paint the vast ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, within the Vatican complex.

The tension of the movie is played out by the tempestuous interaction displayed between these two larger-than-life individuals, both the characters in history as well as in the actors who portrayed them in the film: Charlton Heston (Michelangelo) and Rex Harrison (Pope Julius II).

For anyone who has seen, or ever wishes to see, this breath-taking artistic masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel, this movie makes it come to life and enhances the real-life experience.

Still a Great Film after 50 years!

As a movie, it earned lots of well-deserved accolades at the time. However, filmed in 1965, it is over 50 years old and more than two hours long. While I personally did not find it too long, today’s younger generation, accustomed to more action and fast paced plots, may feel it moves too slowly at times. However, with a bit of background in the art and history it portrays, it is a movie that I highly recommend to everyone to inspire them along the journey of cultural literacy!

Read more about Michelangelo and his Sistine Chapel masterpiece on my Blog posts: Michelangelo Alert! and Father’s Day.


Thanks for letting me share is great movie with you! If you enjoyed the blog, or the movie – or are a fellow lover-of-Italy and Michelangelo – let me know! Please “like” this post, share a comment and/or follow me for further posts. It not only encourages me, but lets me know what further posts you might enjoy as well. Thanks! ~Cher B

One thought on “Film Discussion: The Agony & the Ecstasy (Italy)

  1. i remember you being into that movie in 1965. Of course it was a sin to see movies accordiing to mother. Dand did not feel that way at all. He took us to movies downtown minneapolis and at the Cooper. Mother didn’t have a say in some of that.


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