Tag Archives: Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo Faces Death

The Last Judgment

Destination: Rome, Italy

Book: The Last Judgment: Michelangelo and the Death of the Renaissance by James A. Connor (NEW Paperback Edition August, 2010 from Palgrave MacMillan)

Like Michelangelo and The Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King, this book concentrates on one major work of the maestro. Unlike King’s book, The Last Judgment by James A. (Jim) Connor delves more deeply into the religious philosophy of Michelangelo and his time than into the personal life of the painter. Continue reading Michelangelo Faces Death

Angels and Demons: Movie Travelogue of Rome


Four Rivers Fountain, Piazza Navona, Rome

Destination: Rome

Movie: Angels and Demons

Well, here we are at the end of Italy week.  I went to the long-awaited movie of Angels and Demons around noon today. I would say it was the equivalent of dining on one of those fancy bakery cakes decorated with lard and sugar icing and fresh violets.  Absolutely beautiful, but no substance.

I think that the movie Angels and Demons reflected Angels and Demons the book perfectly.  The book was shallow and error-prone.  Ron Howard, director of the movie, said in an interview that they stripped away the non-essential things. So what do you have when you take something that is insubstantial to begin with, and strip things away? Certainly not much brain food.

I have to hand it to the model-makers, set designers, set decorators, etc.  I have been to Bernini’s Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square) at the Vatican, I had been in the tombs below the Vatican, and although I unfortunately had never been in the Sistine Chapel it is familiar from pictures. The accuracy of their portrayal in this movie should win those guys an Oscar or two.  I would have sworn the scenes in Saint Peter’s Basilica and other parts of the Vatican were really in those places. However, since the Vatican would not allow the film crew inside Vatican property, it was all the work of clever designers.  Note, however, that when the camera scans the Sistine Chapel, it moves quickly, not focusing enough for you to study the art work and statuary, and the scenes there are brief. Very clever work, indeed.

(Spoiler alert) And somebody gets loads of credit for that gorgeous, turbulent sky when the anti-matter explodes. I was waiting for Michaelangelo’s outstretched fingers of God and Adam to appear.

The dialogue, on the other hand can only be called lame.  What kind of exposition is it when a Professor of Humanities is having to tell a woman with a PhD in Physics about how Galileo thought that the earth revolved around the sun, and therefore the church excommunicated him? The movie seems to rely more on dramatic music and sound effects than dialogue to move the plot along.

When I read Angels & Demons , I thought the book  was a fun, quick, read, but superficial.  The movie is the same, but its saving grace is the gorgeous views of Rome, both aerial views and close up inside famous piazzas and churches–enough to satisfy any aficionado of Italy. And perhaps to lure some travelers to visit the Eternal City. Given that fact, I would certainly not want my negative remarks to deter you from seeing the movie.

Photograph by Vera Marie Badertscher. All rights reserved.

Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel

Destination: Rome


Book: Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

A Journey into Michelangelo’s Rome by Angela K. Nickerson

Number one on my Italian travel agenda: Rome. Number one in Rome: The Sistine Chapel.

After a lifetime of seeing pictures of those outstretched index fingers, I wanted to see the rest. Not a bad painting for a guy who thought he was a sculptor.What a delight to find a book that unveils all the religious, political and artistic mechanics behind one of the world’s greatest masterpieces. Michelangelo, to put it mildly, was a complex human being, and the book, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling captures the complexity of this genius along with the age in which he lived.  The book’s 384 pages may have more details about, say, the mixing of colors, than some readers can tolerate, but I loved every fussy, gossipy moment of it. I went to Rome fully prepared to see the Sistine Chapel with an educated eye, thanks to this addition to my travel library. And on the morning I had scheduled to go to the Vatican, I fell ill. Oh well, there is always next time. I hope.

And next time, I will expand beyond the Pope’s ceiling by reading A. K. Nickerson’s A Journey into  Michaelangelo’s Rome (2008), which was published after my last trip to Italy. See her video on You Tube.

Have you seen the Ceiling? What impressions did you carry away?

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