The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Adapted by Philip Dunne from the novel by Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstacy is the story of the 16th century war of wills between Renaissance artist Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) and "warrior pope" Julius II (Rex Harrison). Commissioned to paint a religious fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the independent-minded Michelangelo balks at the assignment. He is virtually strongarmed into accepting the job by Pope Julius, who wants to leave something for future generations to remember him by. Director Carol Reed deftly juggles screen time between the Pope's activities on the battlefield and Michelangelo's slow, arduous completion of his monumental task. The film also gingerly approaches the subject of Michelangelo's sexual orientation vis-a-vis his relationship with the Contessina de Medici (Diane Cilento). Too long and limited in subject matter to score at the box office, The Agony and the Ecstacy holds up pretty well when seen today, especially when viewed in a wide-screen print. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Irving Stone, Philip Dunne, Carol Reed
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 22, 2005
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment


Rex Harrison
as Pope Julius II
Charlton Heston
as Michelangelo
Diane Cilento
as Contessina de' Medic...
Adolfo Celi
as Giovanni de Medici
Harry Andrews
as Bramante
Alberto Lupo
as Duke of Urbino
Venantino Venantini
as Paris De Grassis
John Stacy
as Sangallo
Fausto Tozzi
as Foreman
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Agony and the Ecstasy

Critic Reviews for The Agony and the Ecstasy

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 10, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Required viewing for the fan of pious filmmaking or the cinematographer in film school. From a story and character perspective, it's sadly very forgettable.

Full Review… | March 9, 2014
7M Pictures

For some viewers, the agony will be watching Charlton Heston (over)act, and the ecstasy Rex Harrison. But it IS refreshing for a period film to cover such new and (pun intended) artistic ground.

Full Review… | March 2, 2014
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for The Agony and the Ecstasy


Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison portray two of the Renaissance's most colorful figures in this brilliant historical epic drama based on Irving Stone's best selling novel. When Pope Julius II(Harrison)commissions Michelangelo(Heston) to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel,the artist initially refuses. Virtually forced to do the job by Julius,Michelangelo later destroys his own work of art and therefore flees Rome. Nominated for three Oscars including Best Supporting Actor(Harrison),Best Director(Carol Reed),and Best Cinematopgraphy and was named of the year's best films by the National Board of Review,"The Agony and the Ecstasy" is a fascinating dramatization behind one of the world's artistic masterpieces. Filmed on location in Italy and Spain and shot in brilliant Todd-AO and Color and directed by the great British director Carol Reed,Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison(in their first and only film together)give two of the screen's best performances.

Mister Caple

Super Reviewer


The battle of wills between Pope Julius II and Michaelangelo that culminated in the painting of The Sistine Chapel. Worth a watch.

Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer


Very long, intricate retelling of the story...but still great.

Barry Lappin

Super Reviewer

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