Agora Review

27 Aug

Alright, I just came fresh off the movie theater experience on this one.  So, my opinions are still a little brash, but more heartfelt.

First off, I am glad that I saw this for free.

Second off, Wow, are those Pagans, Christians, and Jews super angry or what?

Agora follows the philosopher Hypatia during the midst of the Christian takeover of the Roman Empire in Alexandria.  Alexandria plays a strong role in the film as the melting pot of many different religions and beliefs and slaves; Egyption hieroglyphics are right next to Roman statues.  The film primarily studies the conflict between (changing) relgion(s) and science.

I suppose that the primary metaphor and quest for Hypatia throughout the film is her trying to reason out if the sun revolves around the earth, vis versa, and how.  Circles and their perfection continue to arise as the dominant imagery which are then added to by the ellipse.

The standout performance I would say is Max Minghella as the slave then Christian, Davus.  He reminds me of a younger, miniature version of Mark Ruffalo.  Still, his performance is sullied by the constant shots of him looking around worried.  They grow to be quite tiresome.

Rachel Weisz does her best as Hypatia, but I suppose her past performance as Evie in The Mummy sort of soured this one for me.  The entire time, I kept on thinking of Imhotep bursting out in all of his glory.  Either way, all of her lines seemed to be tainted by her not really believing what the character is always saying.  When she’s trying to be the smart, distressed women that no one will listen to as she philosphizzzes it up, she just does not seem in the groove of things.  When the small moments are abound, she handles them gracefully.

On that note, there are not that many small moments to be had.  The film is basically split up with Philosophy-Anger-ATTACK-Repercussion-Philosophy-Anger-ATTACK-Repercussion and so on.  There’s far too much yelling in this film, and, quite frankly, when there is violence it really just does not look real.  This is emphasized during the bird’s-eye-view shots over the battlefield when all of the extras are play acting with stabbing each other in that tight space between your arm and your side.

Overall, the film struggles under the weight of being historical fiction/biography that is fraught with religious stereotypes, false endings, and too many Google Earth effects.

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One Response to “Agora Review”

  1. faithljustice August 30, 2010 at 8:29 AM #

    I saw Agora when it first came out in NYC. Amenabar distorted some history in pursuit of his art. The Great Library didn’t end as he depicted and Synesius wasn’t such a jerk. However, that’s what artists do. I don’t go to movies for accurate history. For people who 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.

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