Originally released last year with limited U.S. screenings, audiences best take advantage of this next go-round because Agora is worth every second. Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, his vision of Alexandria is a sumptuous yet often gory feast. Starting at 391 AD, the film circles around three focal points, the perpetual religious warfare of the time, the disintegration of the Roman Empire, and the assumed life’s work and teachings of philosopher and mathematician Hypatia, played by Rachel Weisz, who is stunning in her Hellenic garb, draped in pure Grecian white or clothed in rich purples and vibrant fuschias. The only comparable marvel to rival her is the city of Alexandria and its great Library, envisioned with grandeur and filled with a light and beauty that matches Weisz.
Hypatia, a historical figure, was Greek, which might excuse Ms. Weisz’s conspicuously pale skin as she plays fair maiden amidst her significantly darker Egyptian and Mediterranean counterparts. Daughter of Theon, a prefect of Alexandria, Hypatia is brilliant in math, philosophy, and astronomy though none of her original writings survive. Other philosophers and scientists pay tribute, in their texts, to her contributions, which include the charting of the celestial bodies and the invention of the hydrometer. She lived in the Roman outpost of Alexandria, and Carl Sagan, a modern day champion of her, once argued, without sufficient substantiation, that Hypatia might have been the Ancient Library of Alexandria‘s last librarian. Agora‘s filmmakers took this speculation and ran with it, creating an opulent setting for one very luminescent individual.
Read entire post at Ruelle Electrique.