Agora - a film now showing in Kingston: Agora - Rev Stuart's thoughts
Revd Bruce Stuart writes:
Agora, film. [see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186830/ for more information]
Having heard about this film I thought it would be fun to ask people to make a point of going to see it, and then, at some date in the future, getting together with those who attended it to discuss it.
However, I learned from the internet that it is due to be shown at the Kingston Odeon from NOW!, Friday, 23 April – Thursday, 29 April. Probably too late a notice for anyone to respond to my suggestion.
Let me explain why the suggestion had occurred to me in case any of you do wish to respond to this message from me, or in case any of you manage to see the film in the next few days.
The film is set around 391 C.E. in Alexandria. It centres around an astronomer-philosopher, Hypatia of Alexandria, played by Rachel Weisz, and a love affair that develops between her and her slave, played by Max Minghella.
The main event, and I would guess the reason for the film, is the destruction of the magnificent classical library at Alexandria in that year. In fact (isn’t Wikipedia wonderful?) it had been subject to minor fires and destruction going back to the time of Julius Caesar.
This cultural outrage, whose ramifications have been by its nature impossible to measure, was carried out by extremist Christians, under the encouragement of the Coptic Christian Archbishop, Theophilus of Alexandria.
It seems clear from the review I heard that the motivation to make this film came from some of our contemporaries – atheists on the rampage, keen to find examples to prove that any form of organized religion is mainly marked by extremist views and violent destruction.
But, the destruction of the library was, to repeat, a massively significant, cultural outrage. No one gains by trying to ignore that it was a group of Christians who did this deed or to try to justify what they did
I do not think we should be too upset if a group of atheists should choose to make a film about this event. It’s not as if Christian film makers have not had more than enough opportunities to portray aspects of the Christian faith, beginning with the silent movie era film by DW Griffiths, Intolerance, in 1916, but including 50’s and 60’s Biblical epics such as The Robe, Ben Hur (twice), The 10 Commandments, King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told and so on and so on.
Agora sounds like an interesting attempt to smear organized religion, and Christianity in particular. I do not know whether I will have the opportunity to go and see it, since it is showing over these next few days.
To repeat: if any of you out there want to comment, or, even better, give a reaction if you happen to see the film, I would be interested to read your comments.
Revd Bruce Stuart