BBC The Renaissance Unchained (2016) s01e02 Episode Script

Whips,Deaths and Madonnas

It says here that the Renaissance was a tremendously important period in European culture that produced the beginnings of modern thought.
And this period, it says here, was marked by the revival of the spirit of Greece and Rome, and by an increasing preoccupation with secular life.
And, I suppose, some of the time that's what it was.
In some bits of the Italian Renaissance, the Greeks and the Romans are definitely being remembered, and modern thought is, perhaps, being invented.
And it's certainly getting more secular.
But that's only in some bits.
Over the years, I've been all around Italy and I've seen an awful lot of Renaissance art.
And wonderful work, no arguments there, but, you know, very few bits of it, very few indeed, are actually trying to do what it says in the books.
I mean, this is a forgotten master of the Italian Renaissance, Niccolo dell'Arca.
Have you heard of him? No.
Why? Because he doesn't fit this.
Yet this was made in around 1460, so in the pioneering, early days of the Italian Renaissance.
Yet, are the Greeks and the Romans being revived here? Is modern thought being invented? Has this got secular ambitions? I don't think so.
The fact is, a lot of what we've been told about Italian Renaissance art is thoroughly misleading.
It's just not what was going on.
Most of the time Italian art wasn't reviving the Greeks, it wasn't inventing modern thought.
It was doing something far more important than that.
It was telling stories to people who couldn't read, imagining the unimaginable, and getting in touch with religious feelings that were deep and Catholic.
I mean, come on.
This is Italy.
Ah, here it is.
Zechariah 3:8.
Ecce enim ego adducam servum meum orientem.
"Behold, I will bring forth my servant, the Orient.
" See that town up there on the hill? That's Assisi.
A town filled with Renaissance art.
But also with Renaissance complications.
Because that's where Francis of Assisi was born.
Francis was the founder of the Franciscan Order of monks, the Greyfriars, as they were known in Robin Hood times.
And in Italy he pops up in more Renaissance art than anyone except Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Now, why would the founder of an order of monks get this much attention? There it goes.
The sun coming up over Assisi.
How beautiful is that? Now, if you ever find yourself without a compass in Italy and you want to know which way you're pointing, the thing to do is to find the nearest Catholic church.
Because they all point to the east, to the rising sun.
Interestingly, in the Tuscan dialect, Assisi, or Assesi, actually means "rising up".
Like the sun rising in the east.
Or as we used to call it, the Orient.
So it's Zechariah again, 6:12.
"Behold the man whose name is Orient.
" "He shall build the Temple of the Lord.
" Because Francis's story keeps appearing in all this Renaissance art, we know it really well.
We know that he was very rich, but then he saw the light and gave away all his possessions.
We know that one day Francis was coming down from Assisi when he came across a ruined chapel here at San Damiano at the bottom of the hill.
And he went in.
Inside was a crucifix and, miracle of miracles, it spoke to him.
"Francis," said the talking crucifix, "my house is crumbling.
" "Go and restore it.
" So that's what he did.
Carrying the stones on his own back, Francis of Assisi rebuilt the chapel here at San Damiano and fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah.
"Hang on a minute, Waldemar," you might be thinking.
"You're sounding like Dan Brown here.
" "What are you implying?" What I'm implying is that Francis of Assisi was a messianic figure who thought he'd been instructed to act by the Bible.
Zechariah 6:12, "My servant the Orient will rebuild the Temple of the Lord.
" Francis of Assisi thought he was the Orient.
His followers thought it too.
Up on the balcony of the Franciscan headquarters in Assisi, looking out across the world, they've put the words of the great Tuscan poet Dante, which make the connection with the Orient explicit.
Francis wasn't just living a life, he was fulfilling a huge biblical prophecy.
You don't have to take my word for it.
Take the word of Renaissance art, and particularly of the marvellous Giotto.
This is the great Basilica in Assisi, built in memory of St Francis in the 13th century.
And in around 1300, Giotto was commissioned to paint Francis' story.
Now, 1300 - that's early.
And this is one of the defining frescoes at the very beginning of the Renaissance.
It's all up there.
There's Francis giving away all his clothes and renouncing his inheritance.
There he is talking to the animals in a famous miracle of divine communication.
And there he is holding up the church, rebuilding it exactly as Zechariah predicted.
It's all here, laid out with the clarity of a comic book, in this vivid explosion of imaginative Renaissance storytelling.
When people go on about the pioneering art of Giotto, they talk about the new solidity of his figures, the classical influences at work on his anatomies, this new naturalism of his landscapes.
And all that is true, but it misses the point.
What's really remarkable here - astonishing, amazing - is that Giotto has found a way to imagine the unimaginable.
I mean, look at this stigmata scene.
Christ as an angel sending lines of pain from heaven.
Transferring his wounds to Francis.
What a strange storyline that is.
In the real world, none of this could happen.
Francis couldn't hoist the church up on his back, or talk to the pigeons, or receive the wounds of Christ.
In the real world, it can't happen.
But in art, it can.
That's what's so telling and exciting about the art of the Renaissance.
It's not about regaining the civilisation of the Greeks or quoting the classical world.
It's about making the impossible feel vivid and real.
And if you can do that, that's an enormous power.
It's the power of Renaissance art.
Now, I don't know how familiar you are with the concept of purgatory.
These are godless times, so the chances are you don't know as much about it as people used to.
Purgatory is somewhere between earth and heaven.
It's where you go if you haven't been bad enough to go to hell but you haven't been good enough to go to heaven either.
Not straightaway at least.
In purgatory your penance continues.
And your soul gets scrubbed up until it's clean enough to enter paradise.
That's Dante, the great Tuscan poet, who's quoted so pointedly on that balcony in Assisi with that line about the Orient.
In this inventive fresco by Domenico di Michelino, painted in 1465, the giant Dante looms over Florence.
Surrounded by the scary and painful future that all we sinners must face.
On the left of him that's hell, with all those poor sinners being stung by bees .
and burned by the eternal fires.
Behind him, see that mountain? That's purgatory, where the world's lesser sinners run off their sins, like naughty schoolboys running round the football pitch.
When I was at school and I was naughty, which happened a lot I'm afraid, I was given lines to write.
The same thing over and over again - "I will not flick ink at my geography teacher," that kind of thing.
But in Renaissance Italy, if you wanted to atone for your sins and spend less time in purgatory, you had to pray for forgiveness.
And the best person to pray to was the Virgin Mary.
Why are there so many beautiful Madonnas in Renaissance art? Because so many Renaissance sinners had so much praying to do.
These fascinating battles to imagine the Virgin Mary and capture her perfection resulted in some of the Renaissance's greatest pictures.
When I say great, I mean GREAT.
Look at the size of that.
The enthroned Virgin Mary.
Painted in the very early days of the Renaissance, in around 1315, by Simone Martini.
Now, that's what you call an enthroned Madonna.
I don't know about you, but when I look at Renaissance pictures I need to know what I'm looking at.
Otherwise even the best Renaissance art can blur into an impenetrable wall of religiosity.
And that's particularly true of all these Renaissance Madonnas.
There's so many of them, and they can all feel the same.
So in this film I'm going to guide you through the main types of Madonna that you find in Renaissance art.
So when you go into a museum, you'll know exactly what you're looking at.
This big one, the enthroned Madonna, sits above us, surrounded by saints.
How do we know they're saints? Because they've all got halos.
That is St Peter, Jesus' trusty apostle.
You can always spot him in art because he's always carrying a big key .
the key to heaven.
And there is St John the Baptist.
He's always wearing an animal skin, because he lived in the wilderness.
So, John the Baptist is here, St Peter is here, the Virgin Mary is here.
And where is the only place where they could all be together like this? That's right, heaven.
They're all in heaven.
That Simone Martini has done here in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena is to imagine that this wall is an opening in the side of the building .
that looks out onto heaven .
where the Madonna and her saints have gathered so that we, over here in the corporeal world .
can see her and worship her.
The enthroned Madonna is particularly popular.
But there are many other Renaissance Madonnas to pray to.
And a man could go mad deciding which to pick.
So, to narrow them down, I've done what any sensible admirer of Renaissance art should do.
I'm focusing on the Madonnas painted by Piero della Francesca.
Between 1445 and 1474, along this stretch of road on the borders between Tuscany and Umbria, right at the heart of the Italian Renaissance, Piero painted a cluster of Madonnas that can all be visited in a day.
And the one to start with is up there, in the little Tuscan hill town of Monterchi.
It was painted for the town church but an earthquake knocked it down.
So it's now got its own museum.
She's called the Madonna del Parto, that's in Italian.
In English, she's the Madonna of Parturition.
So if you know what parturition means you'll know why she's so special.
Parturition is childbirth.
So what this is is an image of the Holy Madonna pregnant with baby Jesus.
It's very rare in art to see Mary pregnant.
Not just in the Renaissance, but any time.
It's as if pregnancy is just too real, too biological, to fit with the image of the Virgin Mary.
But Piero pulls it off here with such grace.
The next Piero Madonna is here, in his hometown of Sansepolcro in the town museum, where you will find her at the centre of a complex religious arrangement.
It's a polyptych - an altarpiece made of many parts.
Piero was originally commissioned to paint it in 1445, so that's right at the start of his career.
But he dillied and he dallied and he did all these side panels first.
And the Madonna herself, she was only finished in 1462 when, as you can see, he was at his peak.
She is what they call the Madonna Misericordia - the Virgin of Mercy, who is always shown with her cloak outstretched, offering mercy and protection to those who shelter under it.
These giant Madonnas of Mercy are a kind of stand-in for the church itself - a human building in which the congregation can gather.
All these kneeling figures at the front, these are the donors, the people who actually paid for the picture.
Because that's the other way you earned time off from purgatory in the Renaissance - by commissioning works of art for the church.
Why is there is so much great Renaissance art? Because so many great Renaissance sinners were trying to get into God's good books.
This is the Ducal Palace in Urbino, and that is Piero's Flagellation.
Such a mysterious little picture.
And, very unusually, he signed it with the name of his hometown.
But this is what we've come here to look at - Piero's Madonna of Senigallia.
She's so tranquil, so still, so lovely.
And as with all these Madonnas, Piero is faced here with the fiendishly difficult task of painting a Madonna who is both a mother and a virgin.
That is the big challenge facing the Renaissance imagination.
So up on the shelf, he has painted a basket of crisp, white linen - a deliberate echo of the Madonna's purity.
But this is Piero della Francesca, the master of light.
So he doesn't just do it with linen, he does it with sunbeams as well.
Look here - how the light coming in so gently through the window makes a beeline for Christ.
In the subtle symbolism of this wonderful picture, Jesus is the product of a magic penetration .
a penetration by light.
Now I think we're all agreed that Piero's Madonnas are serenely beautiful, but I think we can also all agree that his baby Jesuses, to put it charitably, are a touch unconvincing.
No, let's go further than that.
They're pretty ugly.
And the same can be said of a lot of Renaissance babies.
How can an era that gets the Madonna so right get the baby Jesus so wrong? Well, actually, it doesn't get him wrong.
At least, not on its own terms, because you have to remember what they're trying to paint here isn't just a baby, this is a God who's come down to Earth as a man.
When the painted the baby Jesus, the artists of the Renaissance were trying to imagine a baby who is also a God.
A newborn who has been there since the beginning of time.
Two very different concepts are trying to squeeze themselves into one tiny body.
No wonder so many of them are so ugly.
Because Piero's Madonnas are so noble and lovely, I worry that I may be painting too sunny a picture for you here of the essential drives of the Italian Renaissance.
Yes, Italy, a land of mama's boys, was especially fond of Madonnas.
But it was also a land full of sinners who needed purging.
This is the convent of San Marco in Florence.
And as you can see it's full of wonders.
It was taken over in 1435 by a religious order called the Dominicans.
The Dominicans were founded by St Dominic of Guzman at the beginning of the 13th century.
And the self-appointed task of this fierce religious order was to rid the church of heretics.
You can always spot the Dominicans in art.
They're the ones wearing the white robes with the black cowls.
And that's why they came to be called the Black Friars.
The other nickname of the Dominicans was the Hounds of the Lord.
It was based on a pun.
Dominican sounds a little like "Domini canes", which is Latin for "God's dogs".
This terrifying nickname, the Hounds of the Lord, seemed to suit their spirit.
The Dominicans were notoriously keen on flagellation.
They had a relationship to pain.
And when the Pope in Rome set up the Inquisition in 1229 to rid the church of its heretics, the Dominicans were entrusted to lead it.
So the Dominicans where the dogs of God, religiously fierce, taking on the heretics, but you wouldn't know it from the art they made.
Not here, at least, in San Marco, where the entire convent is filled with the paintings of a Dominican genius they called Fra Giovanni Angelico - the Angelic Brother John.
Fra Angelico was a friar here at San Marco.
And in each of the cells in the convent, he painted the story of Christ, so the friars could contemplate it 24/7.
There is nothing else like this in the world.
As a feat of stamina, it's a mind-boggling achievement.
But it's also extraordinary because Fra Angelico fully deserved his name.
He really was such a sweet and gentle painter.
All the frantic flagellation that went on here seems so far away from the delicate moods of Fra Angelico.
Here is his Annunciation - the Angel Gabriel telling Mary she is going to give birth to Jesus.
And here's another Annunciation, also in San Marco.
A painting of such sparse and simple beauty.
Apparently he would always pray before he began a painting, and once he started a picture he would never retouch it or change it because he believed that his art was divinely inspired.
And if the word of God flows through you, you're not allowed to alter it.
The sweetness of Fra Angelico drifts through the monastery of San Marco like a beautiful scent.
But at the end of the corridor, darkness lurks.
This is the cell occupied by a Dominican whose name still strikes terror in the hearts of us unworthy types - Savonarola.
It isn't time yet to deal with him, but I need to warn you, he's coming up.
See that snow on the top of that mountain? That's not snow at all.
It's gleaming white marble.
Which means I'm in Carrara, whose famous quarries supplied the stone for one of the giants of the Renaissance.
So far in this series, we've talked mostly about paintings.
But, of course, it was also a tremendous era for sculpture.
When you talk about sculpture in the Renaissance, you come here to Carrara and you talk about Michelangelo.
Michelangelo's battles with the white marble of Carrara have come to define Renaissance sculpture.
And the way he carved that marble has come to be seen as the Renaissance way of carving.
You know the stories, they've gone down in the folklore of art - how Michelangelo saw the figures hidden inside the huge blocks of Carrara marble, how he struggled with the stone to set them free.
But it wasn't just the stones of Carrara that Michelangelo was taking on in these famous sculptural struggles of his.
He was also taking on the past.
Buried beneath Renaissance Italy was the ancient world of the Romans and the Greeks, which was now being dug up again, inspiring the Renaissance to compete with it and match it.
The trouble is, all these wonderful ancient marbles that were being dug out of the ground in Renaissance times, inspiring Michelangelo and co, were fundamentally misleading.
When they came out of the ground they were pure and white, but that wasn't how they went into the ground.
We now know that the sculptures of the ancients were never white.
They were always highly coloured and gaudy.
But paint doesn't last as long as stone, so when these ancient sculptures were dug up again they came out white and misled an entire civilisation.
Poor old Michelangelo.
There he was, competing with a mythic white past that never actually existed.
But in this film, we're not going to make the same mistake, because what we're going to do is to follow another Renaissance storyline - not the myth but the truth.
So the first thing we need to do is to find out who broke Michelangelo's nose.
The Brancacci Chapel in Florence.
A Renaissance hotspot that's on every art-lover's bucket list.
Two things of note happened in here.
The first was that in around 1425 Masaccio painted these famous frescoes, telling the story of how we were expelled from Paradise and why.
But there's another reason to come here - because it was in here, in the Brancacci Chapel, that Michelangelo's nose was broken by a rival sculptor called Pietro Torrigiano.
Michelangelo had been taking the mickey out of Torrigiano, and Torrigiano snapped and punched him in the nose.
"I felt bone and cartilage go down like biscuit," he later remembered.
So this Torrigiano was obviously violent and arrogant, but he was also highly gifted.
And while Michelangelo, with his broken nose, went on to dominate Renaissance sculpture, Torrigiano had to flee from Florence and he found himself written out of the story of the Renaissance.
He spent the rest of his career floating around Europe, making weirdly vivid sculpture that's been largely forgotten.
This is also by him.
It's actually Henry VII, King of England, because, amazingly, Torrigiano came to London too, where he worked for the Tudor Court.
But England didn't work out for him either, and he ended up in Spain, where he died in prison, destitute and forgotten.
But look what he left behind - a thoroughly different sculptural tradition.
Just as Renaissance as the gleaming white marbles of Michelangelo, but thrillingly realistic and alive.
Just look at the details of the anatomy.
This wonderfully stringy and wiry body of the old St Jerome as he beats himself penitentially with a rock.
This is the Renaissance that history forgot - intense, neurotic, realistic.
And the reason Torrigiano can be as convincing as this is because this isn't made out of marble, it is made out of terracotta, clay, which you can mould and shape and paint with so much more detail.
Yes, it's less macho than stone carving, but that doesn't make it less Renaissance.
And it's a tradition that doesn't deserve to be forgotten.
This is what they call a compianto, a lamentation over the dead Christ, by an artist from Bologna called Niccolo dell'Arca.
This was made in around 1460.
That's right, 1460.
It's way ahead of its time.
One of the most dynamic and exciting masterpieces of Renaissance sculpture.
Even Michelangelo, when he came here to Bologna, admired Niccolo dell'Arca.
But since then, he's been written out of the story of the Renaissance.
You just don't hear about Niccolo dell'Arca.
Why? Because terracotta - burnt clay - is such unglamorous stuff.
You don't have to go to Carrara to find it, you just look down at the ground under your feet, and there it is.
And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from out of heaven.
You remember earlier in the film how I mentioned Girolamo Savonarola and how we'd be coming back to him? Well, now's that time.
That's him, painted by Fra Bartolomeo, another of the artistic Dominicans working here at San Marco.
Savonarola was not the kind of monk you'd like to meet down a dark Florentine alley.
Swarthy, hook-nosed, intense - he entered the Dominican Order in 1475.
Apparently, he just knocked on the door of the Dominican convent in Bologna and announced that he was going to be a knight of Christ, so they let him in.
In 1482, he moved to Florence, where his first task was to teach logic and ethics to the San Marco novices.
Judging by what happened next, logic and ethics were not things he knew much about.
At some point in his early days in Florence, Savonarola had a vision.
He saw that the Catholic church was in need of purging and he began to suspect that he might be the one who had been chosen to do it.
According to Savonarola, the Renaissance world had grown sinful and corrupt.
The rich had grown corrupt.
Art had grown corrupt.
As these sermons of Savonarola's grew more and more fiery, so more and more people wanted to hear them.
Soon there wasn't enough room in San Marco and he began preaching here in the Duomo in Florence to ever-larger crowds.
Savonarola preached against make-up and immodest behaviour.
Against music, dancing and licentiousness.
And he began preaching, as well, against art, and those examples of it that were not Christian enough for him.
Things reached a head in 1493, when he had an especially apocalyptic vision that the sword of the Lord was about to fall on the city.
Now, as it happened, at exactly the same time, the French were about to invade Italy.
And when they turned up outside Florence in 1494, it was as if Savonarola's prophecies were about to become uncannily true.
God, it seemed, had decided to back Savonarola to the hilt.
Every one of his mad prophecies was coming true.
If this had been a genuinely enlightened era, the kind of Renaissance we've all been taught about, then Savonarola's prophecies would have been recognised as the rantings of a lunatic.
But the Renaissance never was as enlightened or progressive as we've been taught and, instead of locking him up, Renaissance Florence turned herself over to him.
Gangs of young men began to patrol the city to ensure that women were wearing suitably modest dress.
New laws were issued against sodomy, adultery, drunkenness.
And a series of bonfires were started - the Bonfire of the Vanities .
and all that was sinful was thrown on them.
Botticelli, who had painted such gorgeous re-imaginings of the classical world, was one of several Florentine painters who fell under Savonarola's spell and who were persuaded to throw their pagan art onto the Bonfire of the Vanities.
It's also said - with good reason, I think - that this strange painting, Botticelli's Mystic Nativity, was inspired directly by one of Savonarola's Christmas sermons.
"Christ will come again," said Savonarola, "and when he does, the countdown will begin" "to the end of the world.
" Savonarola's reign of terror didn't last long.
In 1498, he was challenged by the Franciscans to a trial by fire to prove that his Dominican prophecies were true.
Savonarola refused, and the mood in Florence turned quickly against him.
Imprisoned and tortured by the Papal Inquisition, he confessed that his visions and prophecies had all been made up.
And a few weeks later, they hanged him in the Piazza Signoria in Florence, and then burned his broken body to keep it from the relic-hunters.
Remember earlier in the film we were looking at baby Jesuses in art and why they are so ugly? Well, this is the other end of the story.
Jesus was 33 when he died on the cross, a fully-grown man.
But in Renaissance pietas, Mary cradles him on her lap as if he was still a baby.
It's one of the most awkward poses in art, and only the best artists could pull it off.
Imagine me stretched across the lap of my mother, and she's holding me up as if I were weightless.
That's so hard to get right.
And what all these pietas are trying to do is to link the death of Jesus with his birth, because Jesus was born to die, and by dying save the rest of us.
That's why the baby Jesus looks forward to the man and the manly Jesus looks back to the baby.
It's a very problematic scenario.
Not surprisingly, most Renaissance artists tied themselves into ugly knots trying to imagine it.
Here's Cosimo Tura from Ferrara - different as ever, and describing the impossible scene with a wild-eyed and wired intensity.
Even the great Perugino, usually so poised, struggles mightily with the terrible dynamics of this terrible pose.
This particular pieta is by an artist called Sodoma.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you why he was called that, this is the Renaissance after all.
Anyway, it's a decent stab at this fiendishly difficult subject.
What Sodoma's pieta gets wrong isn't the anatomy but the mood.
There's a tenderness missing.
Sodoma gives us a decent Jesus.
It's the Mary he can't manage.
If Jesus was 33 when he died, Mary would have been around 50, so she has to be middle-aged yet also emblematically beautiful and innocent.
Now, how do you paint that? It's an enormous challenge for any artist.
One of my favourite pietas is this one in the Louvre, painted in around 1450 in Avignon.
This is pioneering French realism.
Feel the emotional depth of this forgotten French Renaissance.
So the pieta was a test that only the greatest could pass.
And here in St Peter's in Rome, Michelangelo finally gives us the perfect example.
He makes his Mary a little bigger and his Jesus a little smaller so they fit together gracefully.
And, yes, Mary is a bit young for her age, but this extra youth adds a note of fragility to the moment and stokes up the tenderness of the mother-son relationship.
So that's Zechariah, 14:1.
"Behold, a day of the Lord cometh.
" This is another Michelangelo, the Risen Christ.
It's the moment when Jesus, risen from the dead, comes back to earth after the crucifixion.
According to the scriptures, he's supposed to be completely naked, because he left his shroud in the sepulchre when they buried him.
And that's how Michelangelo originally sculpted him.
But, as you can see, someone has added this discreet loincloth.
Happily, it's removable.
In the past, when the famously liberal John XXIII was Pope, Jesus was allowed to be fully naked, as Michelangelo sculpted him.
But these days, he's not.
You can always tell the papal mood by coming here to Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome and seeing if Michelangelo's Christ is naked, as he's supposed to be, or covered up, as the authorities have decided he should be.
So far in this film, I've only nibbled at the edges of Michelangelo.
He's such a huge Renaissance presence you'd need a 24-part series to tackle him properly on the telly, and not the few minutes I have left in this film.
So there's only time to focus on one aspect of him.
But it's the key aspect - his religious fierceness.
With some Renaissance artists, it's never entirely clear what they believe in.
But, with Michelangelo, there's never any doubt that he's an old-fashioned, tub-thumping Italian Catholic - guilty, angsty and devoted.
It's true of everything he made, but it's particularly true of his masterpiece - the Sistine Chapel.
It's the greatest room of art in the world, a banquet of tremendous religious storytelling .
and not just by Michelangelo.
Botticelli is in here too, showing the Punishment of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, when God burns them up with invisible fire.
And here's Perugino again, with Christ handing the keys of heaven to St Peter, and doing it so gracefully.
So, on the lower level, there are all these impressive frescoes by other artists.
And then, up above, there's Michelangelo.
Together, they act as one space that encircles you with art and engulfs you in a dark religious storyline.
There is no angrier God in art than the God of the Sistine Chapel.
He presides over a room filled with trepidation and guilt.
Up on high, God creates Adam, and Adam lets him down.
God creates Noah, and Noah lets him down.
God creates the prophets, and the prophets let him down.
And because they are prophets, they know what is coming.
It's like a steam roller of fear passing over you, a typhoon of guilt, trepidation and anxiety blowing through the Vatican.
And because it's happening all around you, it pulls you into it, it soaks into you.
And the reason why everyone up there is so frightened is made clear by Michelangelo on the far wall.
This isn't any old day we've walked into.
This is the last day of all, the Day of Judgment.
Just as Zechariah predicted, the end of the world is upon us and everyone up there knows it.
And, of course, it isn't just the saints and the prophets painted by Michelangelo who are being judged, everyone who walks into the Sistine Chapel walks into the day of reckoning.
We're all being judged.
The whole room is judging us and terrifying us with the consequences of our sins.
Who's going to be saved and who's going to be doomed? That's what the walls are asking us.
It's not a very Greek question, but it is a very Renaissance one.
In the next film, things cheer up again when we go to Venice.
We'll be eating, we'll be drinking, and we'll be doing a bit of this