Friday, March 12, 2010

Agora – The Good and the Bad

A movie about the excesses of the Christians in antic Alexandria? Sounds like a fun movie and the first sneak peaks of the movie seem to be quite cool. Neither are these modern movies about the Roman times as bad as some of the older movies of the 70s, nor are they garbage, as many critics seem to repeat all over. These sword and sandals (Peplum) movies are actually not worse than most movies about history and some are real classics (Spartacus f.e.).

But neither can you compare Agora, 300 or Rome with these movies, because they are either focused on actual history (Agora, Rome), or more on fantasy-elements (300). They have certainly modernized the genre. But I didn’t want to talk about the genre per se, but rather a critique of the direction per se, or rather the missed opportunities.

Yes, Christian religion has perpetrated some monstrous atrocities, but we have seen them again and again depicted in movies. I’d like to see something new in this regard. Especially since we can stay in the region of Northern Africa/Southern Europe, there are many tales that don’t have to focus on this old scheme “evil Christians beat poor indigenous people”. Where are the movies that depict evil Muslims beating indigenous people in Spain? I bet there are a lot of stories, but they probably would cause riots in the Islam world.

I think more variety could be interesting and there are really not many stories about the live in antique Spain or the live of Jews and Christians in medieval/antique Middle East. I don’t think you have to necessarily portray all "Muslim” as evil (as we can clearly see in 300), but I also don’t think they are just victims. Yes, the common man is mostly victim in religiously intolerant societies, but this is true regardless of classic religion.

Agora, however, went for the safe road and depicted the atrocities of a nowadays dying religion. Of course, people of this religion won’t fight back, they are an easy punching bag. If they wanted to actually make not only an entertaining movie, but a social statement, they should have picked something a bit more controversial.

No comments: