The Agony and the Ecstasy Blu-ray Review

     Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: March 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 138 minutes



            Recently I have had quite a few conversations about the use of nudity in art, particularly with the controversy of French art house darling, Blue is the Warmest Color. Of course, I would never claim to make many more connections between the artwork displayed in Vatican City and the seven-minute lesbian love scene in a modern film, but it is worth noting that nudity in art was something up for debate even in the times of Michelangelo and his Sistine Chapel. The famed artist’s choice to show man as he is described in the Bible rather than saints clothed in excess was a controversy in his time, which makes you wonder what will be considered of great controversial art in the future. 


            The Agony and the Ecstasy follows Michelangelo’s struggle to complete the daunting ceiling fresco during four years that Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison), know as the “warrior pope,” fought to keep the Vatican from opposing forces. Despite the insistence that he is a sculptor rather than a painter, Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) agrees to take on the task of decorating the important chapel. This task proves more difficult than either could imagine, and the film focuses most on the difficult relationship between the Renaissance artists and the Pope.


            The scope of this film is actually quite impressive, containing many location shoots in the actual places in Italy where the action took place. The one main exception is the sequences in the Sistine Chapel, which was recreated for the sake of this film. The photography in this film is full of grandeur and life, fitting in the telling of an artist’s struggle through the act of creation. Struggle and pain lead the path to beauty and lasting greatness where the art surpasses the man. The high definition presentation of the Blu-ray is perfectly suited for films such as this, for The Agony and the Ecstasy is a gem worth polishing. 


    Entertainment Value: 7.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 7.5/10

    Special Features: 1/10

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