Jose here. Is it me or has the release of Agora gone quite unnoticed in the United States?
Not that I'm saying everyone should leave whatever they're doing and go see it (I thought it was pretty mediocre actually as you can read in my review) but I find it surprising that so little has been mentioned about a movie that could generate controversy.
Not only does it feature a woman as lead, but the woman in case (Hypatia of Alexandria played effectively by Rachel Weisz) was also, allegedly, quite ahead of her times and had no need of a man in her life. Think of her as a character of Sex and the Old City.
But the most divisive point in the movie might be Amenábar's portrayal of early Christians as the wreckers of reason. If you think Almodóvar has pent up Christian anger, wait 'til you see the Gibsonian way with which Amenábar jumps against preachers of the gospels.
There's a great article out there by Tim O'Neill that wonders how much Amenábar bent history at his will to push his own agenda. It's highly recommended, if only because of the amount of research the author put into it.
Yet despite all the silliness and shortsightedness of Agora I couldn't help but be mystified and intrigued by the way Amenábar could've done a great film based only on the nature of his visuals.
Agora is after all based on a geometric principle. His allegations of Hypatia's premonition of Kepler's laws might be a little far fetched but his ideas of the "evolution" of the circle as a mystic figure are remarkable.
The first half of the film glorifies the circle and establishes it's a symbol of perfection (you can even see its love of it in the poster)
But as the plot advances, the characters' idea of the circle begin to shift towards the possibility of its imperfection, which gives us the ellipse.
Then we get views of buildings and elements we'd seen before with a slight change in perspective (the circle becoming an ellipse) and while the obvious plot sinks into a biased melodramatic condemnation of fundamentalism the things we're seeing suggest something altogether more significant.
Besides the implications of Kepler's contribution to science what can we learn about the effect of the circle in cinematic storytelling?
Wasn't the elliptical nature of cinema after all a major contribution to narrative aesthetics and the way humanity could perceive the world around them?
Perhaps if Amenábar had been a little less worried about pre-postfeminism and religious hooligans he might've realized he had the power to create a complete film course.
What's your take on Agora? have you seen it yet?