28 August 2010

Agora and Mao's Last Dancer

Yesterday, I went on a sort of movie marathon and watched both Agora and Mao's Last Dancer. Agora is based on the story of Hypatia of Alexandria, an atheist philosophy professor who struggled against religious ignorance as Christianity took power in Egypt (then part of the dying Roman Empire). In addition to some very impressive visuals of the great library of Alexandria, the movie offers an interesting look at issues of religion and science. Mao's Last Dancer is based on a biography about Liu Cunxin, who came to the U.S. as a ballet dancer and then defected to the U.S. The movie flips back and forth between Liu's early peasant life, his training in Beijing, and his time in the Houston ballet. I saw both of these in an art house theatre. I don't know why they aren't shown everywhere. The main holywood fare is sappy and unimaginative. Some elegant period pieces might spice things up a bit.


CyberKitten said...

Agora sounds interesting. I'll look out for it.

Anonymous said...

I saw Agora when it first came out in NYC and loved Weisz' performance as Hypatia. Amenabar distorted some history in pursuit of his art. The Great Library of Alexandria didn't end as he depicted and Synesius wasn't such a jerk. However, that's what artists do. I don't go to movies for accurate history. For people who want to know more about the historical Hypatia, I highly recommend a very readable biography by Maria Dzielska called Hypatia of Alexandria (Harvard Press, 1995.) I also have a series of posts on my blog on the events and characters from the film - not a movie review, just a "reel vs. real" discussion.

Karlo said...

Great commentary! Thanks for the link.