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.
Malta is such a beautiful island. It is smack in the middle of the sea between italy and libya.
Jojo on Apr 26, 2008
Amenábar is one of my favorite directors so I'm really looking forward to Agora. His early movies "Tésis" and "Abre Los Ojos" are highly recommended! =)
Andreas Climent on Apr 26, 2008
Nice! Amenabar is also pretty talented. I'll be checking this flick out!
Spider on Apr 26, 2008
This sounds really exciting to me because not only was Apocalypto one of my absolute favorite movies, but I really enjoy Rachel Weisz, especially in The Fountain. Hopefully they wont let us down like they tried to copy in 10,000 B.C.
Eric on Apr 27, 2008
All hail, the new wave of talented filmmakers--mainly from Mexico and Spain. With Guillermo del Toro leading the way, Amenabar is poised to join the club of the aforementioned del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. "Under the Same Moon" has surprised at the box office despite being low budget low key and starring Mexican actors. We can bet we will be seeing more quality cinema from them.
Spider on Apr 27, 2008
Malta is very nice island and it is very good for this type of movies so I recommended Malta for the type of movies...
Wayne on Jun 8, 2008
It can hardly be about early Egypt if Hypatia is a character, and I'm not sure she was an atheist either. I was really hot to see it when I first heard about it but now your blurb gives me serious doubts...
Axel on Feb 6, 2009
From what I understand, it's not about early egypt so much as Roman-Egypt, which is more towards the end of what is pictured when people say 'Ancient Egypt". I believe it is supposed to take place in the 4th or 5th century AD.
Rachel M on Feb 21, 2009
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