CITY OF ANGELS is a loose adaptation of the 1988 German film, WINGS OF DESIRE. Romanticizing the depiction of angels and their existence, it falls short in representing God's reasons for angels. Nicholas Cage plays Seth, an angel who chooses to become human to win the love of a woman played by Meg Ryan. Though including an examination of faith and free will, the movie contains sexual situations and nudity, making angelic desires less spiritual and more carnal.
CITY OF ANGELS is the loose adaptation of the critically acclaimed 1988 German movie WINGS OF DESIRE. The screenplay was rewritten to appeal to the American 1990’s audience, supplying more romance than substance. The film takes the viewer on a journey with the angels abiding in Los Angeles, how they spend their days listening to people’s thoughts, basking in people’s life and death struggles and giving people reassurance and guidance without interfering in their life decisions. People do not see the angels unless the angels allow themselves to be revealed. Angels are not humans, of course, and so revel in the human existence, but do not experience it directly. They move with the speed of thought, hear music in the sunrise and sunset and ask the recently deceased what were their favorite things while living.
We are introduced to Seth (Nicholas Cage), as he is taking a small girl to “heaven” after dying from a high fever. He asks her what her favorite thing was in her life, and she replies, “Pajamas.” Later, Seth and his counterpart Cassiel (Andre Braugher from PRIMAL FEAR), talk about the profundity of this statement and others that they write in their books. They also discuss what it would be like to be human and to experience these things, usually sitting atop high perches such as freeway signs or building ledges.
Seth’s next assignment is to take a man after having open-heart surgery. While watching over the operation he is attracted to the surgeon, Maggie Rice, (Meg Ryan). Her patient’s death deeply affects Maggie, and Seth tries to comfort her. He begins to fall in love with her based on her strength, beauty, and vulnerability. After following her, he makes the decision to make himself visible to her, going from the guiding spirit to the mysterious stranger. Maggie is captivated by Seth, but questions the reason for his appearance in her life. He challenges her with simple questions, intriguing her. She questions his past or the lack of it and how he always manages to be where she is when she needs him. The main problem with this part of the story is the harsh reality of stalkers and that she never is concerned about him following her everywhere.
Dennis Franz of TV’s NYPD BLUE plays Nathaniel Messenger, a patient of Maggie’s who realizes Seth exists. He was once an angel who decided to make the “fall” into humanity. He convinces Seth that the angel’s life was wonderful, but that the human existence surpassed anything that the angel’s life could offer. He lives his life to the fullest and thinks pleasure is the chief reason for life. Franz is the hedonistic guiding force for Seth and Maggie. He plays the part with excitement and convincing joy. Seth must then decide whether to take the leap into the chaos of humanity for the love of a woman. Maggie must decide to fall for Seth or to marry her long-time boyfriend. Though the couple seem to have a future together, the surprise ending leaves the audience astonishingly quiet.
CITY OF ANGELS moves at the same mesmerizing pace that the original did. Slow but seamless, it holds the attention of the crowd to the end. Director Brad Silberling (director of CASPER) performs his role admirably, keeping the interest of the love story and the decisions of the central characters at the forefront of the movie without boring the audience. He pulls the audience into the emotion of these decisions and showcases the lead talents. His photography cleverly depicts the essence of the angels without showing them flying. Though CITY OF ANGELS is adapted well for American audiences, featuring good dialogue and ample twists for intrigue, the writing lacks moral substance. It does not accurately describe angels and how God functions in their lives. The fact that an angel, a servant of God, would choose to love a human over the everlasting love of God is discouraging and takes away from the power of the message of God.
One of the comments that Nathaniel Messinger makes is that angels do not have free will since God gave that gift to humans and that is the main difference between them. However, God gave the angels the chance to choose when Satan was cast out of heaven. A third went with Satan, and the rest stayed in heaven and served the Lord. The movie depicts that no new angels are being made, and this is biblically correct. The angels God created at the beginning of time are finite, and they do not procreate. The last major discrepancy was that when an angel falls, he becomes human. When the angels decided to leave heaven they became demons in hell, not romantic men on earth.
Angels bring many questions to Christians and non-Christians. The angels depicted in this movie cross many lines in the biblical and New Age representations of their existence. While visually appealing and a well-paced romance, CITY OF ANGELS is theologically and morally misguided. If you want a better film on angels, rent ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD; for a better romantic tragedy, rent SHADOWLANDS.
(Ro, Pa, AbAb, B, L, SS, NN, R, A, D, M) Romantic worldview of biblically incorrect, New Age angels with some biblical elements; 5 obscenities & 3 vulgarities; angel with lustful urges & depicted act of fornication; brief female nudity; woman taking a bath, upper male nudity, obscured full male nudity, & rear male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, two graphic operation scenes.
CITY OF ANGELS is the loose adaptation of the critically acclaimed 1988 German film, WINGS OF DESIRE. The screenplay was rewritten to appeal to the American 1990's audience, supplying more romance than substance. The film takes the viewer on a journey with the angels abiding in Los Angeles, how they spend their days listening to people's thoughts, basking in people's life and death struggles and giving people reassurance and guidance without interfering in their life decisions. Angel Seth decides to become a human to win the love of a surgeon played by Meg Ryan.
CITY OF ANGELS is slow but seamless, holding the attention of the crowd to the end. Though CITY OF ANGELS is adapted well for American audiences, featuring good dialogue and ample twists, the writing lacks moral substance. It does not accurately describe angels and how God functions in their lives. The fact that an angel, a servant of God, would choose to love a human over the everlasting love of God is discouraging and takes away from the power of the message of God. Furthermore, the heroes display nudity and fornication as a celebration of humanity. While visually appealing and a well-paced, the movie is theologically and morally misguided.