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History on Film: Agora

Nothing brings history to life like seeing it on the big screen. The Department of Humanities is inviting you to come out for FREE SCREENINGS of critically acclaimed historical films, each representing a different period and theme in Canadian, American or world history.

Each evening will feature a short talk by a guest speaker who will set the film in its proper historical context, then invite students to participate in a free-ra...nging open discussion afterward. The films will be of special interest to students of Canadian and American history, but everyone is welcome and no historical expertise is needed to enjoy yourself.

Everyone is welcome to attend, admission is FREE and so is the popcorn!


This screening will feature:

AGORA (2009) w/ opening discussion by Prof Katherine Blouin.

A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous female philosophy professor and atheist Hypatia of Alexandria. Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, starring Rachel Weisz.


An allegory: fourth century Christians as Taliban. Alexandria, 391: Hypatia teaches astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. Her student Orestes is in love with her as is Davus, her personal slave. As the city's Christians, led by Ammonius and Cyril, gain political power, the great institutions of learning and governance may not survive. Jump ahead 20 years: Orestes, the city's prefect, has an uneasy peace with Christians, led by Cyril. The Christians enforce public morality; first they see the Jews as their obstacle, then women. Hypatia has no interest in faith; she's concerned about the movement of celestial bodies and the brotherhood of all.


+ The set was built on the exact same spot (Fort Ricasoli, Malta) where the Coliseum was built for Gladiator (2000). The fort was also used for "Julius Caesar" (2002), Helen of Troy (2003) and Troy (2004).

+ Originally, Alejandro Amenábar wanted Rachel Weisz, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers to appear in the film. After reading the screenplay, Weisz did accept the part of Hypatia, however, Baron Cohen turned it down declaring that it was "too prickly, and it would lift sores".

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