The hype of this movie got me out to the theater tonight. Billed as a Pagan film, the lead character is classed as one, although she is portrayed more as philosopher, teacher, and scientist. The polytheists are, for the most part, the ‘good guys’ (interestingly the Christians were always dressed in black, and the Pagans mostly in white ). Since the film is set right as the Christianization of the Roman empire is nearly complete, we don’t really learn much about these Pagans. We only see the beautiful temple, the remnant of the scholarly side of the now passed Greek legacy, and hear brief reference to their principal Ptolemaic God, Serapis.
The film does portray the grandeur that must have been the Alexandrian library. A realistic portrayal of the repository of the world’s accumulated knowledge and the remaining oasis of rational thought, and learning. The story of its destruction is told through Hypatia, the last defender of the knowledge and our Pagan hero. The drama unfolds within a rising tide of religious intolerance and power brokering. Yes, she eventually earns the title, ‘witch’, and succumbs to her fate.
It is a powerful film. It is the story of immense loss, and injustice, and the passing of an age. A strongly woven tale and believable characters give it appeal to a wide audience. The Friday night crowd for the show I attended did not appear particularly ‘Pagan’ and the rumble as I left was: “Ya, I liked it”. When specifically asked I got responses; “Powerful”, “Intense”, ” Like I imagined it”. I’d give it an eight. Very sad, and emotionally difficult to experience as a Pagan, but a film Pagans need to support and see.
I’m still waiting for the Pagan film where the Pagans are the ‘ good guys’, AND win in the end, too! That story is yet to be written.