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31

SUNDAY

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco is the first great superhero comic, depicting supernatural creatures in epic poses and divided into panels like a classic X-Men sequence. Perhaps that’s why cinematic portrayals of the 16th-century artist’s life and work—notably 1965’s The Agony and the Ecstasy, with NRA spokesperson Charlton Heston as the great artiste—tend toward grandiose kitsch. (It may even be why Michelangelo’s work has attracted such nemeses as Laszlo Toth, who took a sledgehammer to the Pieta in 1972, and Pinero Cannata, who snapped a toe off the statue of David in 1991.) Robert Snyder’s Michelangelo: Self-Portrait is probably more grounded, since it’s based on Michelangelo’s own manuscripts as well as accounts by such contemporaries as Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi. Still, the 85-minute 1987 documentary is described as featuring “stunning 35 mm cinematography”—which suggests that the filmmakers couldn’t resist getting a bit epic themselves. The show begins at noon at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)