A joint BBC/British Museum production about the drawings of Michelangelo and the way that they illuminate his life, his artistic development, his religion and his inner torments. The film is presented Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, and is filmed on location in Florence and in the Sistine Chapel.
Michelangelo's drawings are some of the greatest of all time. Fragile survivals from over 500 years ago, they can be studied and admired as things of great technical skill and enormous beauty, but they show us something else as well: they show us Michelangelo thinking. Michelangelo would have felt exposed seeing us look at his drawings. And that's what makes them exciting: they give us a thrilling insight into how this genius sculptor, architect and painter worked: they bring us closer to the master. From pen studies made when he was in his early twenties to the visionary crucifixion scenes carried out six decades later, shortly before his death, this film illuminates the high points of Michelangelo's career.
The film observes a life class at the Prince's Drawing School and uses the male sitter they are drawing to see how precisely Michelangelo studied his great obsession: the human body. From the sketch of God giving life to Adam for the Sistine Ceiling, to drawings in preparation for the Last Judgement and the great last works on the crucifixion, the film traces the remarkable evolution of some of the world's most celebrated artworks.