Friday, June 11, 2010

That Was the Week That Was (or at least 5 days of it)

This has been a crazy week. Started with a quick turn at Jury Duty in the not luxe but definitely improved criminal/family court at 320 Jay Street. I was prepared for anything, but a light court calendar that day had most of us cut loose and on our way after a few hours of hanging out.

It did give me an opportunity to plough through a good portion of Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst. Termed “Historical espionage,” it is a great read with interesting characters and a wonderful sense of Warsaw and Paris before World War II. Not quite done, but can’t wait to see how it ends and looking forward to his The Foreign Correspondent next. Can't wait to get back to Europe.

The working life continues to be intense and extremely busy. Family life, this year we will be married 25 years, with 4 kids at home in their early 20s and teens, is great and challenging and full of awe and mystery. Looking forward to the chance to take a few days off over the summer..amazing how 2010 is flying.

The brouhaha surrounding the Brooklyn Blogfest seems to have abated, with even one of the prosecutorial blogs who first stirred the pot, appearing to back off in a comment at OTBKB.com. It was interesting to throw my two cents into the fray. My only involvement with the Blogfest is as part of the audience, but LC has always been very generous-spirited and encouraging in her support of my own writing and forays into blogdom…hard to overlook.

Did manage to see Agora,  a 2009 Spanish historical drama film directed by Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar and written by AmenĂ¡bar and Mateo Gil. The biopic stars Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in 4th century CE Roman Egypt who investigates the flaws of the geocentric Ptolemaic system and the heliocentric model that challenges it. Surrounded by religious turmoil and social unrest, Hypatia struggles to save the knowledge of classical antiquity from destruction. Max Minghella co-stars as Davus, Hypatia's slave, and Oscar Isaac as Hypatia's student Orestes,who becomes prefect of Alexandria.

The story uses historical fiction to highlight the relationship between religion and science amidst the decline of Greco-Roman polytheism and the Christianization of the Roman empire. The title of the film takes its name from the agora, a gathering place in ancient Greece, similar to the Roman forum. The film was produced by Fernando Bovaira and shot on the island of Malta from March to June of 2008. Justin Pollard, co-author of The Rise and Fall of Alexandria (2007), was the historical advisor for the film

I guess one can understand the fury of the early Christians (A.D. 400) having been persecuted and martyred for many years. They are definitely portrayed in a Never Again mode. At the same time, the film portrays the classical scholarship of Alexandria under Roman rule, just before Christianity became the State religion, while glossing over the persecutions by the Roman pagans of the Christians. But the film adds a certain contemporary resonance by adapting this story to mirror current day conflicts of fundamentalist dogmas against enlightenment, science, and learning.

Rachel Weisz is wonderful in this thoughtful film with enough action to keep things moving. Since I am a fan of epics set in the ancient world, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, well supported by some lovely acting, photography and special effects.

Ciao, baby...



1 comment:

  1. From a fellow Brooklynite: I saw the film when it first came out and loved Weisz' performance as Hypatia. Amenabar distorts some history in service to his art, but that's what artists do. For people who want to know more about the historical Hypatia, I highly recommend a very readable biography "Hypatia of Alexandria" by Maria Dzielska (Harvard University Press, 1995). I also have a series of posts on the historical events and characters in the film at my blog (http://faithljustice.wordpress.com) - not a movie review, just a "reel vs. real" discussion.

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