Agora (DVD Review)14 Oct, 2010 By: Angelique Flores
Box Office $0.6 million
Rated ‘R’ for some violence.
Stars Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac.
The latest drama from lauded Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar (The Sea Inside, The Others, Open Your Eyes) doesn’t disappoint. As with his other films, Agora is rich in story, character and beautiful scenery.
Rachel Weisz stars as Hypatia, the famous mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. In 4th century Alexandria, she is in the midst of the battles between the pagans, Jews and Christians. The tension between the three groups continues to boil, resulting in destruction of the city and death.
Herself an atheist, Hypatia does not shun the Christians or the Jews. Still, the religious clashing causes her demise, in part because of her strong influence on the people. The film switches back and forth from the battling religious groups to Hypatia’s life as a scholar and her teachings, illuminating the people’s contradicting brilliant, scholarly achievements with their base, ignorant fighting in the name of religion.
While it’s probably hard to tell Hypatia’s story without addressing the religious backdrop, the two heavy plots are at times overwhelming. With so much history behind this film, the extras on the DVD are well utilized to fill in some of the historical and cinematic gaps that couldn’t fit in the film. One thing that’s easy to digest is the beautiful scenery, with the elaborate historical sets and lavish costumes.
Equally as entertaining as the film and quite informative, the bonus materials contain an extensive behind-the-scenes documentary “Journey to Alexandria,” much of which is in Spanish because of Amenábar and the crew he assembled; a director’s commentary in Spanish with English subtitles and more.