Filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar is bringing the story of Hypatia and the fall of the Library of Alexandria to the big screen in his new epic film, Agora, starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, the last currator of The Library of Alexandria, As I’ve blogged before, the film has already premiered at Cannes.
Hypatia was a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and librarian working in a man’s world in 4th century A.D. Egypt before a Christian mob violently murdered her, destroyed the Library of Alexandria, and brought about the beginning of the Dark Ages. Hypatia struggled to preserve scientific knowledge amid militant Christianity. But she failed. The Christians declared her a witch, stripped her, dragged her body through the streets, and burned her at the stake before destroying the library, leading the Western world into a thousand years of darkness. She died a hero and a martyr for science and reason.
Of the role, Weisz had this to say:
“Really, nothing has changed. I mean, we have huge technological advances and medical advances, but in terms of people killing each other in the name of God, fundamentalism still abounds,” Weisz said. “And in certain cultures, women are still second-class citizens, and they’re denied education.”
As for the title of the film:
“Agora” — named for the great square at the city’s center — is far from a dusty treatise, though. A lot of stoning and sword-skewering goes on in “Agora” as Amenabar intersperses Hypatia’s philosophical musings with bloodletting in the streets.
Every year, in her honor, the Freedom From Religion Foundation hosts the Lake Hypatia Advance in Alabama.
The following is the new trailer to the film Agora followed by Carl Sagan’s incredibly moving description of the fall of the Library of Alexandria: