So, compared with every other sword 'n sandle film out there, this is actually quite good. Not strictly accurate, but good. Rachel Weisz was fantastic, the whole cast did a great job. Ancient Alexandria looked about right, the costumes were pretty and the residents of Alexandria were a good mix (Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Jews, Africans, etc). The film was shot beautifully- I loved the overhead shots of the fighting between the Christians and the Pagans (such an interesting perspective, and it's hardly ever utilized for scenes like that in film), and the shots of the earth from space while you could still hear what was going on in Alexandria like Orestes' flute-playing, the rioting, etc.
A few things annoyed me about the film. Not so much the Christians as the baddies- I've read Cyril of Alexandria's writings, and they are anti-semitic and polemic in their nature and Cyril honestly was a bit of an arsehole and a provocateur IMHO. I do feel that the filmmakers ignored the fact that Alexandria was a hotbed before Christianity existed - the city's Jews and Hellenic Egyptians had been clashing for nearly five centuries at the time of the film (and after Julius Caesar took the city and Augustus annexed Egypt, the Romans got involved too). And it wasn't necessarily down to differences in belief, politics was often part of it too.
Long story short? The filmmakers left a whole lot of context out. I would have liked to have seen more politics in the film. I am a bit relieved that they left out the more grisly aspects of Hypatia's death though. I don't know what to make of Davus- to be honest he came across as a bit of a douche at times, though I appreciate that he was there to show us the less savoury aspect of society at the time, with the treatment of slaves.
The suggestion that Hypatia was figuring out the heliocentric model of the solar system bothered me too. Pure attempt by the filmmakers at making Hypatia into a ~visionary~ who was before her time- like she wasn't already, as a woman teaching philosophy, mathematics and astronomy in a society dominated by men! And she was probably not an atheist either- at the very least she was espousing the Neoplatonic school of thought, so that would make her a deist. Oh, and as has been pointed out by others, Hypatia would've been much older at the time of her death (in her early 50s, at a rough estimate). But I'm kinda willing to forgive that, just because I loved Rachel Weisz in the role.
And that's about it. I suppose I could go to the film festival screening, but it's the closing night film and it'd cost $30. So I'll wait for the DVD now.
And while we're on Hypatia, here's how I discovered her story: Carl Sagan's amazing series Cosmos. He talks about Hypatia and the destruction of the library here.
Very excited because I'm going to the screening of Pope Joan for the German film festival in the valley on Friday. I'm convinced it's going to be full of lulz, if only because the Pope Joan myth is one of the most awesomely ridiculous medieval myths out there (giving birth in a church procession? Really?!). Sure to be fun, and I can also poke holes if there's any badly-spoken Latin in the film.