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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Rachel Weisz
Max Minghella
Michael Lonsdale
Oscar Isaac.
Directors
Alejandro Amenábar.
Screenwriters
Running Time
127 minutes

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Agora
Alejandro Amenábar's fourth-century epic


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Plot
As the sun sets on the Roman Empire, Christians and pagans battle for hegemony in bustling Alexandria. Meanwhile, philosopher Hypatia (Weisz) grabbles with the Earth's place in the universe.


Review
Agora
Perhaps the edgiest portrayal of Christianity since Life Of Brian, Alejandro Amenábar’s epic depicts the Christians of fourth-century Alexandria as a Taliban-like cadre, as likely to boink you over the head with a rock as turn the other cheek. First the city’s pagans, then the Jews feel the sharp end of their political scheming, while aloof from the carnage, philosopher Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) plots the Earth’s trajectory around the sun.

Amenábar’s camera swoops through a city in tumult, rendered with hand-built sets as well as CGI, as Hypatia and her students are drawn into the maelstrom. While some characters are too thin to tie up the plot strands, it’s a bold, thought-provoking return by The Others’ director and a timely assault on religious intolerance.


Verdict
Always intelligent and thought-provoking, it's a welcome return from Amenábar.


Reviewed by Phil de Semlyen

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Agora
Empire Star Rating

RE: Agora

Having recently gotten myself a Blu-ray player I was looking forward to buying this in high-def...sadly so far there's just been a DVD release. Any news of a forthcoming Blu-ray version would be most appreciated. ... More

Posted by Rumbaabaa at 16:14, 30 November 2010 | Report This Post


Agora

I just watched this after finally getting in through on LoveFilm. As a fan of all thing historical, especially ancient history, I was distraught this never got a theatrical release here and after seeing it, I am aghast. This film is astounding, not only does it breathtaking show ancient Alexandria, its legendary lighthouse and its library, but also the religious intolerance and Christian fundamentalism that was just taking hold. As the Roman Empire is fading into history, the garrison has ... More

Posted by Timon at 22:45, 04 November 2010 | Report This Post


Fair. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 11:44, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


It's a shame that such a brilliant film is overlooked. It surprises me that many people dislike it. The cinematography is stunning, the acting is amazing, from Rachel Weisz especially, and it is a brilliant, thought-provoking story. Definitley 5 stars from me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hanw10 at 10:56, 25 August 2010 | Report This Post


Shame on you Phil de Semlyen

Empire has been a bit of a comic book movie magazine these past years but latetly if you movie doesnt have a gun and a mask you are not worthy. This is a great 5 star movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by smakris04 at 10:34, 30 June 2010 | Report This Post


Bound to be one of the most underrated films of 2009, Agora is an outstanding piece of art that dazzles, entertains and provokes. Although the first half hour or so is marred by somewhat weak characters and exposition, the situation soon changes and the result is a film that deserves to be remembered for decades to come. As already mentioned, the writing can be a rather mixed bag, but it eventually pulls itself together with adaptable characterisation and an endless amount of immensely thought-... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 19:02, 08 June 2010 | Report This Post


The Sublime Insignificant

It surprises me how many reviewers are giving this astonishing film only three stars, and I do hope this is not because the film chooses not to dwell on the viciousness of Hypatia's murder: a decision which would have made a cinematic 'spectacle' entirely inappropriate for this most subtle and beautiful of films. For the record, the real Hypatia - a pagan philosopher in fourth century Alexandria who deduced that the earth orbited the sun in an ellipse, and preserved her right to operate as a lec... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Giles Watson at 19:44, 14 May 2010 | Report This Post


The Sublime Insignificant

It surprises me how many reviewers are giving this astonishing film only three stars, and I do hope this is not because the film chooses not to dwell on the viciousness of Hypatia's murder: a decision which would have made a cinematic 'spectacle' entirely inappropriate for this most subtle and beautiful of films. For the record, the real Hypatia - a pagan philosopher in fourth century Alexandria who deduced that the earth orbited the sun in an ellipse, and preserved her right to operate as a lec... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Giles Watson at 19:44, 14 May 2010 | Report This Post


Agoraphobia?

Everything moves in circles or ellipses in this film, from the planets to history, to the characters who orbit Hypatia in attitudes which change from contempt to adoration. Even her mensstrual cycle is a wheel within a wheel. Amenabar has fashioned something extraordinary here and you only give it two paragraphs? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Whisper at 05:04, 07 May 2010 | Report This Post


Agoraphobia?

Everything moves in circles or ellipses in this film, from the planets to history, to the characters who orbit Hypatia in attitudes which change from contempt to adoration. Even her mensstrual cycle is a wheel within a wheel. Amenabar has fashioned something extraordinary here and you only give it two paragraphs? appreciated in future years for both its emotion, intelligence and mastery of form. Few epics have managed to convey the cyclical nature of history so effectivelyand appreciated for its... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Whisper at 05:01, 07 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Buy a dictionary!

That would make sense in the States, but surely not here? Perhaps the lack of American backing hurt it though and ultimately the UK is styill a Christian country. Though Amenabar has said that it is meant to be an allegory on the use of religion as a driver for violence, nbot a direct attack on Chrisitanity.   I am defintiely very surprised to see a £50m film passing through unnoticed. ... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 19:46, 03 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Buy a dictionary!

The lack of attention is really baffling. Were they afraid that the film would offend Christians or something? ... More

Posted by Deviation at 19:41, 03 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Buy a dictionary!

I was in Madrid last October and the difference in the treatment of the film's release between the UK and Spain can hardly be described. I thought about seeing it then, but my Spanish wouldn't have been up to the task. I wish I had though, as it opened on a handful of screens here and has already more or less disappeared. A shame as by all accounts it is very good. It's not that long since Amenabar was being hailed by Empire and many other film publications around the world, but somewhere along... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 19:31, 03 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Buy a dictionary!

This is it? Amenabar's new film, one of the most expensive films from Spain and the more interesting films of the year, and this is all it gets? ... More

Posted by Deviation at 01:19, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post


Buy a dictionary!

This is not a review of the film, although I am eagerly awaiting it - it is a review of Empire's plot description. Please, PLEASE, either employ someone who is literate to write your plot synopsis or buy a dictionary or spell checker. 'Hypatia GRABBLES with...' I don't think she does. She may well GRAPPLE, or she may SCRABBLE for an understanding of, but there is no such word as grabble. I do not expect such dreadful mistakes from an expensive publication which purports to love film - pleas... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by emmadragon at 14:37, 29 April 2010 | Report This Post


Buy a dictionary!

This is not a review of the film, although I am eagerly awaiting it - it is a review of Empire's plot description. Please, PLEASE, either employ someone who is literate to write your plot synopsis or buy a dictionary or spell checker. 'Hypatia GRABBLES with...' I don't think she does. She may well GRAPPLE, or she may SCRABBLE for an understanding of, but there is no such word as grabble. I do not expect such dreadful mistakes from an expensive publication which purports to love film - pleas... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by emmadragon at 14:37, 29 April 2010 | Report This Post


I know this film probably isn't big -- but this review is horribly unsubstantial. For a film which you at Empire have deemed "intelligent" and "thought-provoking", you clearly haven't channeled much of the thought that it provoked into the review! No reason is even given to why it's 3 stars. Further evidence of Empire's descent into popularism, perhaps? That said, at least you're not trying to maintain a thin and transparent veneer of cinematic learnedness ... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by harlequin21 at 21:53, 27 April 2010 | Report This Post



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