Geometry of Love, The
Update 7 May 2007: THE GEOMETRY OF LOVE wins TOP HONORS at Houston Worldfest! more info...
Update 2 April 2007: THE GEOMETRY OF LOVE nominated best director(Short Docs) at HOUSTON Worldfest. more info...
Update 1 August 2007: THE GEOMETRY OF LOVE awarded the highly prestigious GABRIEL AWARD more info...
What is a church? In a literal sense, it's just another building: a structure of wood and stone and glass, built for a purpose, like an apartment block or a baseball stadium. But to Canadian author Margaret Visser, a church is much more. Every stone and tile, every pillar and arch, has meaning.
In The Geometry of Love, Visser decodes the secret language of churches: the spiritual symbolism embedded within the very physical structure. She takes the viewer on an astonishingly expansive journey through Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura in Rome - a seemingly small, unremarkable church whose story is really the story of all churches, everywhere.
The award-winning author of such works as The Way We Are and Much Depends on Dinner, Margaret Visser has won acclaim for her ability to illuminate the meaning of ordinary things, from our table manners to the tale of the Easter Bunny. To unlock the meaning of Sant'Agnese took her four years of research in seven different languages.
The church, more than 1000 years old, appears relatively nondescript from the street; all its splendor lies within. In this, says Visser, it models an important spiritual ideal. "A Christian," she explains, "is supposed to have an unassuming exterior and be very humble. But inside: spiritually rich."
As she moves through Sant'Agnese, Visser points out the interior features and sheds light on their many layers of symbolic meaning. Like all churches, she says, Sant'Agnese has a story to tell, at once epic and intimate. It's the story of a journey - one that begins with the dawning of human consciousness, and that leads ultimately toward spiritual transcendence.
Beneath the altar lies the tomb of St. Agnes, for whom the church is named. One of the most revered martyrs of the early Christian Church, she was put to death by the Roman authorities in 305 A.D., at the age of 12. Her offense: she refused to renounce her Christian faith and to venerate the Roman gods. Visser calls her "a new kind of hero" whose self-sacrifice embodied a distinctly modern ideal: the assertion of individual rights against the power of the state.
To grasp what a church means, you also have to know what it is to believe. In one of the film's most powerful passages, Visser shares with the viewer the story of her own religious reawakening almost 15 years ago - an epiphany that transformed, in a single instant, her entire understanding of the world.
"You don't have to pay attention to churches," Visser says. "But it's an awful pity not to." The story of a church like Sant'Agnese is the story of Christianity, she explains. And the story of Christianity is the story of 2000 years of Western civilization. It is the story of who we are - and who we wish to be.