A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his mistress, the famous philosophy and mathematics professor Hypatia of Alexandria.
Alexandria, 391 AD: Hypatia teaches astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. Her student Orestes is in love with her, as is Davus, her personal slave. As the city's Christians, led by Ammonius and Cyril, gain political power, the institutions of learning may crumble along with the governance of slavery. Jump ahead 20 years: Orestes, the city's prefect, has an uneasy peace with Christians, led by Cyril. A group from the newly empowered Christians has now taken to enforce their cultural hegemony zealously; first they see the Jews as their obstacle, then nonbelievers. Hypatia has no interest in faith; she's concerned about the movement of celestial bodies and "the brotherhood of all". Although her former slave doesn't see it that way. Written by
The set was built on the exact same spot (Fort Ricasoli, Malta) where the Coliseum was built for Gladiator (2000). The fort was also used for Caesar (2002), Helen of Troy (2003) and Troy (2004). See more »
Bird's-eye/satellite images are used to contrast the story's earthly developments and the universe Hypatia tried to disclose. These images show 400 AD Alexandria along with modern man-made Suez Canal, Assuan Dam, Lake Nasser and Toshka Lakes (created in 1998). See more »
Synesius, you don't question what you believe, or cannot. I must.
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A very courageous view of the battle between rational science and "free thinkers" versus religious doctrine
I highly recommend the film AGORA by Alejandro Amenábar (who also directed the Others) now out on DVD.
It's not a perfect film (the acting and dialogue is a bit clunky at times) but it is a very courageous view of the battle between rational science and "free thinkers" versus religious doctrine. And even if it takes place 1600 years ago, the frightening conflicts are still here today and the questions the film raises are, unfortunately, still very relevant.
The sets, photography, costumes etc are great, the use of shots of the earth from space give the film a slight "Kubrick" feel (not because of a parallel with 2001) but because down below, humans in their folly, are murdering each other over "my God is better than your God" fairy tales, meanwhile the universe, that we are slowly starting to understand through SCIENCE, remains there with many secrets waiting to be discovered.
The film is unbelievably sad in it's depiction of mobs of religious extremists destroying accumulated knowledge, a fact that has happen many times throughout history, delaying our progress in so many ways.
This is a truly a horror film for those whose value science, rationality, free thinking and feminism.
Unfortunately, this film got only a very limited theatrical release in North America.
I give it plenty of kudos and 8.5/10
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