The Movie Christians Don’t Want You to See

Agora, directed by Alejandro Amenabar, opened in Spain on October 9, 2009, becoming the highest grossing film for the year in that country, grossing over $32 million in the first three months post-release. Featuring Academy Award winning actress Rachel Weisz, The movie featured at the Cannes Film Festival, and won a Best Original Screenplay in Spain. With the ingredients and the feel of a big budget blockbuster, why has the film been limited to just a few indie outlet screenings within the U.S?

Significantly, Agora found success in these small urban cinemas, and according to Rentrak, which tracks movie ticket data in North America, recording the highest per-theatre-average of any film in the marketplace during the Memorial Holiday weekend this year. Yet no major U.S Distributor believes it to be a worthy punt for wider cinematic release. We must ourselves why? Either the movie is of poor substance, or it’s the substance that causes concern. Judging by the film’s success elsewhere, we can presume the latter.

Set in Alexandria, Egypt during the fourth century (391 A.D) Weisz plays the role of Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer who investigates the flaws of the geocentric Ptolemaic system and the heliocentric model that challenges it. In lay terms, does the sun revolve around the earth, or the other way around? In the background, the gradual collapse of the Roman Empire, and the violent uprising of Christianity within pagan centers.

Central to the plot is Hypatia’s efforts to preserve the city’s library, a library that Christians seek to destroy because they believe science interferes with the worship of Jesus. Whilst much of the drama is a fictionalized, this narrative is historically correct. In fact, historians refer to the destruction of the Alexandrian library as the end of the first period of enlightenment and the commencement of the Dark Ages.

In the years leading to the period of the film’s setting, the Roman Empire was beginning to implode upon itself; the cracks in the wallpaper were evident to the intellectual elite and to the Roman Emperor Constantine. The empire stretched to the most northern parts of Europe, to the edge of Asia, and down into the African continent. With so many varying societies and cultures under his control, with a myriad of respective religions and gods, Constantine believed a one-god religion could bring stability and unity to all his nations. However, in the shopping aisle of one-god religions, there was only Judaism or Christianity. He chose the latter because the Romans believed the Jewish beliefs to be barbaric and outdated.

In signing the Edict of Milan in 322 A.D, Constantine gave legitimacy to Christianity, a religion whose followers totaled less than 40,000, representing less than 1% of the Jewish population at that time. Mass conversions began. Christianity, unlike paganism and Judaism, is a proselytizing faith, and Agora illustrates the ugly, brutal, and politically motivated origins of America’s favorite religion.

The film leaves you asking many questions i.e. how many centuries earlier would we have discovered the germ theory of disease, thus preventing the premature deaths of billions of people, had Christianity not been forced upon mankind in such a belligerent fashion, as it was in 391 A.D?

 CJ Werleman

Author  ‘God Hates You. Hate Him Back’  (Making Sense of the Bible)

14 responses to “The Movie Christians Don’t Want You to See

  1. Nice review. I’ll be looking for the movie, as it sounds interesting. But you really had me at Rachael Weisz…

  2. Nice article CJ. Any idea where I can find this movie?

  3. A thoughtful review. The Christian response to the movie has been a bit hyperbolic, since Amenabar with his choice of costume and casting, is saying “black-shirted, bearded, middle-eastern fanatics are destroying civilization.” He also distorted some history in service to his art, but that’s what artists do. Don’t go to the movies for history. For people who want to know more about the historical Hypatia, I highly recommend a very readable biography “Hypatia of Alexandria” by Maria Dzielska (Harvard University Press, 1995). I also have a series of posts on the historical events and characters in the film at my blog ( – not a movie review, just a “reel vs. real” discussion.

  4. Noshwat Somal

    Any movie with a female mathematician non-theist is a movie I would like to see. Take your daughters to see this film.

  5. I saw Agora a few weeks ago. I was blown away by its perspectives, both in the story and as the movie’s style of narrative. Actually got a little misty-eyed at the end too. Definitely worth checking out ESPECIALLY if you’re one of those people that thinks “hallelujah” is a nice thing to say.

  6. After reading your review, I feel like I’ve seen the movie…I’m a gonna see it anyway.


  7. does it include any streaking around the quadrangle?

  8. rufustfirefly

    Sounds interesting, but the title of the post makes it seem like there is some kind of Christian conspiracy against the movie.

  9. j.p.christiansen

    Hypatia – Our Own.

    of course,
    and by instance
    of just one human
    out of many millions,
    it would shame a person,
    to say the very, very least,
    to associate with any religion
    whose ‘fathers’ killed a woman
    spreading words of enlightenment.

    the ‘Ur-feminist’ of our scientific learning
    and liberation for minds seeking knowledge,
    is our heroine of visions for humanity’s freedom ~

    her fate represents a horrible and egregious example
    of theistic fear, jealousy, ignorance, and manifest hate,
    and what a human being liberated from dogma’s power
    suffered as result of employing her secular reasoning.

    Hypatia was lecturing, when set-upon, and seized,
    by monks in cahoots with the bishop, Cyril.
    She was dragged, by ‘authority’ of ‘God’,
    to a church where she was killed
    viciously by said ‘holy’ men
    who tore her apart,
    for burning !

    Of course,
    the year 415 isn’t of the period Christians live now, right ?

    “Guilty by association” is the point being made here,
    and no amount of denial will suffice for ‘absolution’ ~

    total dissociation from that past is necessary
    for inclusion in a loving human ‘family’
    as it gradually recovers to heal
    from man’s ( read men’s ) inflicted evils.

    “Innocent by association” with the post-theological ethos
    is the state of ‘absolution’ and ‘rebirth’ possible
    for the theist taking the step of liberation.

    Your ‘family’ is waiting !

  10. Hypatia believed in more that math and science. Although she was not Christian, she was not a “pagan” in the sense she did not worship multiple gods or engage cultic practices. Nor was she an atheist. Hypatia was a deeply spiritual woman who taught Neo-Platonism to her intimate circle of students. Philosophy as studied in late antiquity was very different from the subject we take in college—it was akin to a religion with logical and mystical elements. Neo-Platonists believed a person could know the transcendent One (god) from which the rest of the universe emanated, but not through logic or reason—only through deep meditation to achieve an ecstatic state. Her former student (and Bishop of Ptolemais) Synesius mentions they studied the Chaldean Oracles, as well as some Christian texts, and compares Hypatia’s lectures to a religious experience. He writes to a fellow student, “For my part I am and I advise you also to be, a more careful guard over the mysteries of philosophy.”

    As a confirmed atheist, I was sad to learn this about Hypatia, but I don’t know if someone could actually be an atheist in those times and places. Too little was known about the world, science, evolution; and even if a person rejected popular superstitious worship (of all types), a logical person would probably still believe in a creative force of some kind. She’s still a hero to me.

  11. I saw advertisements for this movie all over Rome last spring. I think it may become available on DVD in the fall. I’m going to buy it.

  12. Last spring, the chaplain did not see “advertisements for this movie all over Rome”. I live in Rome and, even though eagerly waiting for some of them, did not see any as the clerical hierarchy’s veto was strictly enforced. Just like in the United States, in Italy the movie was scarcely distributed and only after the unremitting resistance of cultural circles who collected thousands of signatures for a petition ( and again thousands of supporters on Facebook. For those who can read Italian, here is the full story of the umpteenth “Conspiracy of the Vatican”:
    In conclusion, the answer to the question whether or not the movie has been boycotted all over the world is simply yes and since its first screening at the Cannes film festival. Regardless of its blatantly artistic value, enthusiastic reviews and public acceptance, it was hissed and booed in a manner it would have been exaggerated for a boxing match let alone an international film festival. All considered it sound revealing that the chaplain states having seen “advertisements for this movie all over Rome”, just to say he will give a look at it.

  13. But what about the “several” hundred years that the others persecuted the Christians? Man is man no matter what ! Constantine gave “man” a reason to fight back. Justification! Anyone during this time would have fought back and they did. Christians were slaughtered by the thousands. Do the history. I don’t see any pity for them; do you ? In the last 100 years or so over 14 million Christians have been killed for nothing more than trying to believe in “One” God as He has revealed Himself through Jesus. Ask “Lee Strobel” ( Once he was a non-believer ). Do you history on BOTH sides, don’t be so closed minded. Isaiah 1:18 ( God is a God of reason) (Bet you never heard that one before). Before you disagree, please know that God loves us all, He hates the sin but loves the sinner. I had to realize that and I was free to choose something greater than myself. Numbers 6:25-26
    “May God bless”

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