Thursday, February 07, 2008

Strike Watch, Episode VI

If you believe in Christian theology, Angels in America has the potential to be a powerful religious allegory ... or, possibly depending on your denomination, a dangerously blasphemous parody. If you reject Christian theology, this HBO miniseries depicts the elaborate fever dream of a dying man. Whichever way you take it, it is absolutely captivating.

Angels in America is the story of Prior Walter (played by Justin Kirk). Recently diagnosed with AIDS, Prior is visited by an angel. This angel informs him that he is a prophet and charges him with the task to halt the world's progression towards the End of Days. As he grapples with this revelation, he must also deal with being abandoned by his lover and with the devastating reality of his disease. Throughout he is heart-wrenchingly human, and one of the most lovable characters imagined.

"I believe I've seen the end of things, and having seen I'm going blind
... as prophets do."

Angels in America started it's life as a play, and it shows. The complex and meaningful dialogue, the heart-stopping imagery, the sweeping storyline all recall the the grandiosity of the theater and help the message transcend the usual banality of the small screen. As in the theater, most of the actors play multiple roles. Such talents as Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Mary-Louise Parker, James Cromwell and Emma Thompson lend the show major star power.

"I am the continental principality of America! I am a bird of prey!"

So, regardless of the beliefs you hold or the beliefs you think you hold, add
Angels in America to your Netflix queue. It is a rare and beautiful spectacle that must be witnessed. If only for the witty repartee.

Prior: [wrestling the Angel] I will not let thee go, except thou bless me! I will not let thee go, except thou bless me!
The Angel: You have prevailed, Prophet... Now release me; I have torn a muscle in my thigh.
Prior: Big deal. My leg's been hurting for months.

1 comment:

Maggie Cats said...

When I visted William and Mary as a senior in high school, I saw their theatre department put on this play. It opened my eyes to the power of theatre, and was probably part of the reason I ended up going to college there. The tv version is extremely faithful to the staged version, and doesn't lost anything in the translation to the new medium. Great write-up!