Sunday, August 29, 2010

Movie Review: Agora

As someone who is working towards my Masters of Library Sciences Degree, there are very few movies that I feel are targeted towards my career path specifically. The Librarian made-for-tv movies starring Noah Wylie, Jet Li's Black Mask, Party Girl and The Name of the Rose come to mind, but that's about all I can think of off the top of my head.

Agora, which came out last year, finally made it to one of the speciality theatres in my city two weeks ago and I saw it yesterday. Coming from the point of view of someone who loves libraries, and has over the past few years become interested in the study of Ancient Greece and Rome, this movie was right up my ally.

The film takes place in Alexandria, Egypt in 391 AD, and follows two students of a Greek philosopher/scholar named Hypatia (played by Rachel Weisz, who by the way played another librarian in the first two Mummy films), who has an incredible understanding of mathematics and science, and unfortunately lived in a very dangerous time to be a scientist and a women.

The film does a really good job of showing a world in transition - it takes place relatively soon after Christians have stopped being persecuted by the Roman Empire and the tables are about to be turned on the followers of Rome's various pagan religions. Hypatia teaches at the Library of Alexandria and through the eyes of two of her students (one a young Roman, the other a slave), we get a very close look at this brutal period of time.

I'll definitely be purchasing the film, as I enjoyed it, found it beautifully filmed, and even though it showed some very nasty sides to a lot of the religious groups of the era, it does give a glimpse into the reasons of why this situation came about.

1 comment:

  1. As a writer, librarians are among my favorite people! I saw Agora when it first came out in NYC and loved Weisz' performance as Hypatia. Amenabar distorted some history in pursuit of his art but that's what artists do. If you want to know more about the historical Hypatia, I highly recommend a very readable biography by Maria Dzielska called Hypatia of Alexandria (Harvard Press, 1995.) I also have a series of posts on my blog on the events and characters from the film - not a movie review, just a "reel vs. real" discussion. Thanks for the review!