“When we went to the Sistine chapel, it is a spectacular piece. And now, it’s been cleaned from the hundreds of years of candle burning. It’s super bright and vivid, and that’s something that I hope you see in the film. We wanted to recreate that spectacular feeling of how it must’ve been to walk in there for the first time, [to] these glorious, glorious images in praise of the Lord.” — Mark Tildesley
Seeking a soundstage large enough to house a full recreation of the Sistine Chapel, Tildesley opted for the world-famous Cinecittà Studios in Rome. At 400,000 square meters, it is the largest film studio in Europe.
Unfortunately, the largest studio space on the lot was not available, meaning that the chapel’s famous ceiling artwork would have to be created in post.
To reproduce Michelangelo’s fresco, The Last Judgment, Tildesley considered multiple strategies, ruling out painting a full-scale version.
The reproduction would ultimately be created from high-res images applied to the chapel wall, but they would first need to go through extensive digital manipulation.
When the designer visited the Sistine Chapel on a private tour with art historian Enrico Bruschini—the world’s leading expert on the space—he found that the chapel had been cleaned, to the point where it was brighter and more vibrant than the images he had been using as a reference. However, he was not permitted to take pictures in the sacred space so had to change the images based on memory alone.
Tildesley hired artists from Venice and Rome to paint at one-third scale those portions of the fresco which couldn’t be color corrected through digital processes. These paintings were photographed, then added to the other images.
Applying a printed film onto “plastered flattage”—wooden boards with a plaster surface—to replicate the texture of a fresco, Milan-based company Tattoowall then dropped the massive digital reproduction onto the wall. This process took three weeks.
Tildesley estimates that Tattoowall’s technique saved him nine weeks of reproduction work.