The Agony and the Ecstasy is a massive production and features two fine performances by Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison; it’s also an interesting, widespread, story that keeps one’s attention through the 2-hour running time.
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Genre(s): Drama, History
Fox | NR – 138 min. – $24.99 | March 4, 2014
Plot Outline*: Michelangelo Buonarroti (CHARLTON HESTON), a sculptor from Florence, is first commissioned to craft the Pope’s tomb in Rome. Instead, Pope Julius II (REX HARRISON) orders him to paint frescos on the Sistine Chapel ceiling depicting the 12 Apostles. After his first attempt at painting the Apostles, he destroys his work and flees to Carrara to quarry marble. He evades the pope’s guard and flees into the mountains, where he becomes inspired.
On a battlefield, Michelangelo convinces the Pope to change the grand design and paint not just the panels of the ceiling, but the entire vault. The work proceeds nonstop, even with mass in session. Months turn to years. Michelangelo is accused of blasphemy and heresy by portraying Pagan symbols and myths, but is allowed to continue. Bounarroti suffers from blindness as a result of paint poisoning, and fatigue from overwork. While recovering, the Pope’s architect Donato Bramante (HARRY ANDREWS) pressures the Pope to use Raphael to finish the ceiling. But Michelangelo garners the strength to continue.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
All that is included is the Teaser (1:15) and the Theatrical Trailer (3:28).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Fox releases The Agony and the Ecstasy onto Blu-ray presented with a 2.20 widescreen aspect ratio and a crisp-looking 1080p high-definition transfer. The video looks quite good considering its age going on close to 50 years and it appears some good work has been done cleaning it up as only minor instances of dust marks are seen, and most viewers probably wouldn’t even notice them, but scratches are non-existent and colors appear to be well balanced while detail levels on both close-ups and background elements are sharp.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is more than adequate albeit it’s hardly dynamic. Dialogue levels sound clear enough while the more action-oriented scenes fill out the center and front channels and the encompassing score makes use of the rear channels along with the front speakers as well.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, The Agony and the Ecstasy is a massive production and features two fine performances by Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison; it’s also an interesting, widespread, story that keeps one’s attention through the 2-hour running time. The Blu-ray release has nary a feature but the audio and video transfers are both well done.