A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous female 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
In one of the movie scenes a quite large Opuntia (Prickly pear cactus) can be seen. These plants are not native to the old world and they were introduced to Africa after discovery of the Americas. In fact, Opuntia was introduced to Europe at the beginning of the 16th century by Spanish seamen.
There is one cactus"shrub" that is shown several times, also the the juicy fruits are eaten by the locals. This makes one wonder, have the Spanish movie-makers deliberately done the cactus a "part of the plot" ? See more »
The majority of us here... have accepted Christ. Why not the rest of you? It's only a matter of time and you know it.
Really? It is just a matter of time?... As far as I am aware, your God has not yet proved himself to be more just or more merciful than his predecessors. Is it really just a matter of time before I accept your faith?
Why should this assembly accept the council of someone who admittedly believes in absolutely nothing?
I believe in philosophy.
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The great thing about this film is the choosing of the story, and its context. The shifting of mentalities depicted here and the riotous events, whether historically accurate or not serve as an example of what was going on. Basically the end of an age, that meant the placement of religion at the core of political, social, and cultural powering of society. So, it's pretty apt that they developed a story around the idea of christians overcoming jews and pagans, yes, but more important, forcing Orestes (the "old school" guy) to play their political game, and wiping out Hypatia, the "last" free thinker (and a woman!).
Those viewers that care about historical "truth", whatever that is, should mind a few things here: there aren't enough true facts for us to be able to tell a factual story of the events, and in this film specifically, we shouldn't take things at their facial value, but to consider them as metaphors for something. Characters stand for what they represent in their context. It's all a metaphor, including the physical act of destruction of the library. Library, the term, referred to the books back than, to knowledge, no the physical place, and this certainly is understood by the writers here, who nevertheless use the idea of the building being destroyed, but as a metaphor. That building, which is fairly interesting  (even if virtual) becomes the central piece of the metaphor, and the richest thing about the construction of this film, for how they play with the idea of distances. It's as simple as this: first, you have the "Greek school" controlling the library, and everybody else outside. Than christians take over, throw the greeks out, and make the "library" into something close to a church. The remaining Greek thinkers are thrown to the outskirts. And the Agora, center of social discussion, becomes center of riots. Who gets the library gets control, but those events leading to control take place in the Agora. And Hypatia comes to go on with her research outside the city, marginal to the new order.
There is a certain visual interest in the recreation of events, but it seems to me that there was more to the intentions of Amenabar in what concerns the use of the camera than what technology allowed him to do. The movements seem to be more mechanical than he'd probably want, because he wasn't able to predict the spacial world as much as he wanted.
Than we have Hypatia, and the interesting thing about her is how in her we see something common back than, which was the use of science, logic, and mathematics as a path to God, to the understanding of the universe. Actually this attitude went on through the middle ages in western cultures, disguised with various names (gnosticism, alchemy, esoterism). Physical or metaphorically, this shift towards religious politics certainly has been one of the greatest set backs in western culture.
 - The building has a circular hole in the ceiling, and the effect is, i think, a watered version of one of our best buildings, Rome's Pantheon.
My opinion: 3/5 http://www.7eyes.wordpress.com
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