Since the latter half of the 15th century, people from all over the world have traveled to see Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel. Admirers have lauded the frescoes that decorate the ceiling and walls of the building for their beauty and splendor. Yet, centuries of candle soot, pollution, and incense smoke had dulled the work, and in 1980 work began to restore the Sistine Chapel to its original state. Edwin Newman narrates this magnificent documentary that chronicles the first phase of the 12-year process: the restoration of the 14 lunettes (semicircular frescoes). While revealing Michelangelo's true images--slightly modified by earlier restorations--Newman shows us a vibrancy of line and color; no longer is Michelangelo's work noted for subtlety and shadow. As we watch the Italian team at work, Newman weaves the history of the chapel, a brief background on Michelangelo, and an analysis of the artist's work into the narration. We investigate small discoveries: a strand from a paint brush, pigmentation, a palm print left by Michelangelo himself. This documentary is an educational and fascinating look at both the work of the artist and the process of restoration--and a must-see for any with the slightest interest in the Sistine Chapel. --Jenny Brown
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