Winner of 7 Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent of the Oscar), Agora is a breathtaking, English-language historical drama directed and co-written by Academy Award-winner Alejandro Amenábar (The Sea Inside). The film is set in ancient Egypt under Roman rule, where violent religious upheaval in the streets of Alexandria spills over into the city’s famous Library. Trapped inside its walls, the brilliant and beautiful astronomer Hypatia (Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener) and her disciples fight to save the wisdom of the Ancient World. Among these disciples are two men competing for her heart: the witty, privileged Orestes (Oscar Isaac) and Davus (Max Minghella), Hypatia’s young slave, who is torn between his secret love for her and the freedom he knows can be his if he chooses to join the unstoppable surge of the Christians.
Agora by director/co-writer Alejandro Amenábar Four years ago, after an experience as intimate as making The Sea Inside, I’d never have imagined my next film would be about Romans and Christians in Ancient Egypt. That’s the best thing about this profession: the chance to give in to your curiosity, investigate and find worlds as fascinating as Alexandria in the 4th century. To imagine its streets, temples, people… and find the passion—and money—to bring it all back to life.
Everything about the journey has been thrilling, from when I first dreamt up the project to the post-production phase, and my dream now is to thrill audiences as well. Agora may be set in the past, but in many ways it is about the present. It’s a mirror for people to take a step back, observe time and space from a distance and surprisingly find that not so much has changed in the world.
Agora also originated from my recent interest in Astronomy. I never liked the sciences as a boy, and especially disliked math and physics. I couldn’t get my head around anything to do with precision and certainty, I’d seen too many birds and ghosts. Only later on, when I realized that science is a field itself based on uncertainty, on constantly doubting, on fascination and imagination, did I finally let it infect me.
And that’s how I bumped into Hypatia the philosopher, a surprising woman whose legend disappeared inexplicably over time. Agora is her story, but it’s also a tribute to Kepler, Galileo, Einstein… to all the people in the last two thousand years who looked up at the sky and, with so many questions unanswered, tried to find rational answers. People who weren’t afraid to want to know more.