I just finished wathing Agora and I find it to be a really refreshing movie. Basic knowledge of our age are taken for granted when ancient philosophers spent years trying to figure out something as simple as the relationship between the earth and the sun.
Below is a short review on my thoughts on the movie [spoiler warning].
The movie was set in old Alexandria, Egypt around 391A.D. Alexandria was part of the Roman Empire and the major theme of the movie is religious extremism (yes, we can all relate to that in this day and age), the lost of culture and knowledge. In 391A.D, it was a time when Christianity was growing rapidly and the old Roman religion was quickly dying out. Even the Emperor Theodosius himself is a Christian. The main character, Hypatia, is one of the earliest women philosophers in history. She teaches philosophy, astronomy and mathematics. Throughout the movie, various scenes of scuffles are shown between the early violent Christian fundamentalist (similar to the Taliban of our time) and other religion, mainly, the Roman pagans and the Jews (Islam only came later in 6th Century).
The fundamentalist, lead by pope Cyril, forced their agenda on everyone, to the point that some government officials had to be baptised to have a career in Roman politics. The fundamentalist were also against knowledge (they have their own version, as opposed to Hypatia’s primitive science), where they would burn all the priceless books and scrolls from Hypatia’s library, which is the Library of Alexandria.
In the end, Hypatia was killed by the fundamentalist mob, and her discovery of the eclipse and the central position of the sun was lost for a few hundred years. The same attitude towards knowledge persisted for a few decades and with that, the Roman empire went further into decline. By the 7th century, the dark ages loomed and the rest is history.
I was so taken by the notion that a discovery so profound was easily lost due to narrowmindedness and religious extremisim. In short, the key takeways from this movie is that religion must be practiced in moderation and must not be forced onto others. Knowledge should be appreciated as it is the single one thing that marks the progress of man kind.