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 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 the 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
One scene includes a large prickly pear cactus. They're native to the Americas, and were introduced to Europe at the beginning of the 16th century. 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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I remember hearing of Hypatia's tragic tale from Carl Sagan in his "Cosmos" TV series way back in 1980. I was appalled by the tale, and shook my head as any good reasoned young man would. It was a story that stuck with me for much of my life. And I often wondered if such an important biography would ever be published about this mysterious and remarkable historic figure. I truly did not think so, and believed that Hypatia's memory would have to live on with what little history there was written about her, and the blurb mentioned once or twice by Carl Sagan as he recounted the once magnificent library of Alexandria.
People are stupid. I agree with Ridley Scott on this. They really and truly are. Whether it's the zealots portrayed in this film, or the Christian who sat behind me commenting on the film (he ACTUALLY APPLAUDED the Christians in the film), or just people in general, they really are stupid. It's how we get things like religion, and place not just some whimsical desire in them, but a devout belief, a serious conviction of some entity that is displeased by earthly decadence. Hence the crux of the story in "Agora".
We have the absolute mind numbed moronic thinking of the masses verse the practicality of those who know they do not know everything, but have a thirst for knowledge, and to share that knowing with others so that they can live a life free of fear.
But, we see that it is fear that wins out. Not reason. Not logic applied to a simple problem with a simple solution. But pure, unmitigated fear. Everyone from the heads of state, the heads of religions, the heads of mobs, the heads of any social entity in Roman Imperial Egypt is gripped by fear. Knowledge. Reason. Logic. Understanding. Education. Those are the true weapons that can assail the most ardent of foes.
But fear is primal, and infects everyone and everything like a plague spread by rats. The notion of imaginary beings who, in spite of being all powerful and all knowing, are vested in a patch of desert and how its human female population dresses should be a warning sign. Does this not sound familiar? We have the same concerns today, and although codified and addressed by legislation for local morays, and investigated and codified by alleged behavioral experts, people are still pretty touchy about anything remotely informative that doesn't gybe with their ideals: as a for instance; sex in this case.
Hypatia thinks like a man, despite her sexual makeup. She is the one who calls reason, as any good leader or scientist would. The rest merely cower to the polity dominating the social terrain. But she is optimistic. Even so, the times tragically overwhelm her.
The story of Hypatia has been somewhat elongated, no doubt for dramatic effect. Regardless, it's a good watch. Buy yourself a ticket, or grab the DVD when it comes out. You won't be disappointed.
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