First Look: Alejandro Amenábar's Massive 'Agora' Sets
I was coincidentally watching Rachel Weisz in The Mummy just moments before I stumbled across this news. And what do I find - Rachel Weisz starring in another Egyptian period piece! Agora is an ancient Egyptian set film written and directed by Oscar winning filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar of The Others and The Sea Inside. It seems that what Amenábar is attempting to achieve with Agora is somewhat similar to what Mel Gibson achieved with Apocalypto: "[allow] the audience to see, feel and smell a remote civilization as if it were as real as today". That alone drew me into this project - as it was something I'd never heard about before until now.
The TimesofMalta.com website posted the first photo of the set being constructed in the city of Delimara in island nation of Malta. In the photo below you can see pieces of the city of Alexandria being built for the film, which is to be "based in Roman Egypt in the fourth century AD."
Agora is an English language film described as a historical drama set in early 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, a female philosophy professor and atheist. The TimesofMalta.com website adds a bit more detail to the story: Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz plays astrologer-philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria who fights to save the collected wisdom of the ancient world. Her slave Davus (Max Minghella of Syriana) is torn between his love for his mistress and the possibility of gaining his freedom by joining the rising tide of Christianity. In addition to Weisz and Minghella, Agora also stars Rupert Evans, Michael Lonsdale, and Homayoun Ershadi.
The film doesn't even have a US distributor yet, but is shooting for 15 weeks and should wrap by June. Local Maltese workers are being employed in roles and crew positions, which is rare for Malta, and the production is giving new life to the city. It's great to see a small project like this slowly building buzz because it sounds like something special that the Maltese are supporting. In actuality, it sounds like a movie that definitely captures my interest but I can't say I'm sold until I really get a feel for the atmosphere Alejandro Amenábar is creating and more details about the story.
In fact, this reminds me a lot of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. That movie featured a phenomenal recreation of an eighteenth century Paris yet was highly underrated. I'm hoping Agora gains some more traction than Perfume at the least. We'll be following this project as it develops and let you know once we hear more or get any more new photos.