Trailer: Andrei Konchalovksky’s ‘Sin’ Depicts the Nearly Catastrophic Obsessions of Michelangelo
It’s said that Michelangelo believed that every sculpture already existed in the block of marble, and his job was merely to chip away the excess until it was fully revealed and realized.
This view of the creative process was especially philosophical, even noble, considering Signore Buonarroti was indisputably one of the greatest artists who ever lived. And the new film Sin (Il Peccato) vividly explicates the maestro’s towering obsessions that drove him to such heights of perfection. It’s directed by another virtuoso, Andrei Konchalovsky (Runaway Train, House of Fools, Hitler in Hollywood), and stars a swarthy Albert Testone as the artist himself.
Shot in 2019, it is at last coming to America via a Corinth Films virtual cinema release on February 19 – and the trailer thrillingly but anxiously depicts the struggle a then nearly 40-year-old Michelangelo faced while having devoted his life to famously painting the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. After a life of accolades and riches bestowed by the Medici banking family, his life fell into ruin as he tried desperately to complete the most renowned work of the middle-period (or perhaps the entire) Renaissance.
While so many films about 16th Century Italy settle on being lavish historical travelogues, with lots of grandiose architectural shots and lasciviously flaming passions, Sin does not shy away from the gritty realities of everyday life during that time. Michelangelo’s own considerable cross to bear was that of pandering to the powerful families that paid for his commissions. And when in 1513 death comes for Pope Julius II of the Della Rovere clan (he who famously banished the Borgias to Spain), the artist makes an urgency of sourcing only the finest Carrara marble in order to build his “sacred” tomb.
At this same time, he is commissioned by the new Pope Leo X (a Medici) to complete the facade of Rome’s San Lorenzo Basilica. And so he is forced to weave a web of deception in order to maintain favor with the two bitterly rival families, who hold his ultimate fate in their hands. Testone gives a forceful, visceral performance as a tortured, yet determined Michelangelo, who also must reexamine his own motives and inspirations in order to carry on.
Konchalovsky himself has stated that the film was conceived as a “’vision,’ a genre popular in the late Middle Ages which culminated in Dante’s Divine Comedy – shedding light on the consciousness of a genius, a man of the Renaissance with his superstitions, exaltations, mysticism and faith in miracles.”
And so Sin is ultimately about the struggle of genius against the forces of greed, corruption, politics and religion, and about how art must try to maintain its exalted purpose in the face of the crass realities of this, our harrowing human existence. Considering America is now in the throes of a socio-political rupture that easily rises to the level of the most infamous of Renaissance power skirmishes, it is perhaps nothing less than exigent viewing.