Production: Mod Producciones
Agora, starring Rachel Weisz as the main character Hypatia, is a movie about many things. It is a sweeping tale of the battle between pagans and Christians in 4th Century Alexandria; it is a story of the evolution of certain scientific findings and beliefs; it is the story of Hypatia, a female mathematician, astronomer and atheist. You get all of the above and more in this complex 127 minute film.
The overarching theme behind this movie is the religious upheaval in Alexandria – at different times there were battles between Christians and Pagans and then later it was the Christians and Jews. Interwoven through this setting is Hypatia. Here is where Rachel Weisz certainly stole the show. She is a scientist and teacher during this chaotic and uncertain time – and she is atheistic. All of these characteristics ultimately lead to her downfall once the new regime takes over the city – despite the attempts of her former pupils to save her. Also intertwined in these religious changes is an ex slave, who is in love with Hypatia. All of these story strings came together nicely, although I was left a little confused by the ending and did have to look up what it meant.
The first surprise for me was that even though this film is a Spanish made film – it is in English! I was expecting to have to focus on subtitles and kept putting off watching this one for awhile because of it. This revelation allowed me to spend more time looking at the beautiful world that was created on the screen, rather than having to read words. And what a world it was that was presented to us. I could really picture being in 4th Century Egypt. The costuming was also very appealing and well done.
The biggest drawback for me did have to do with words on the screen – despite there not being subtitles. Periodically there would be a screen full of words to try and set the setting or explain what was happening – that in and of itself wasn’t the issue – it was the colors that they chose. The words were in white and were usually displayed over a tan desert scene – it made it very difficult to read and I did lose some of the context because of this.
I would recommend this movie to any of my historical fiction fans! It really was a surprising movie with a lot of depth of story and exploration of the events of the time.
4.5 out of 5 stars
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