Angels play a key role in many religions but particularly in the three major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Angels have appeared to such people as Moses, the Virgin Mary and the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) these are key people in their religions. They are seen as Gods messengers and are bringers of good news. For example an Angel appeared to the shepherds to tell them Jesus had been born. In the film “City of Angels” starring Nicholas Cage, the issue of the existence and purpose of angels is explored.
However, Seth, the character played by Cage does not live up to the stereotypical idea of an angel. For example, many people think of angels as being primarily female. However there are no female angels featured. Many people also think of Angels as people who float around on clouds all day with white dresses and halos. These angels live on earth, in a library, and look more like Mafia Godfathers in black suits. It is often implied in holy texts that being an angel is a preferable existence than being human.
For example, they get to sit at the side of God in heaven. In the film however, Seth longs to be human. He is apparently not the only one. A patient in the hospital has previously been an angel and can sense Seth’s presence (something that humans are unable to do). He tells Seth that there is a way of converting from an angel to a human. One must jump off a building (or anything high enough for a human to kill themselves). Instead of dying, the reverse happens, an angel will be “born” i. e they will become human.
This has its advantages, Seth will be able to touch and smell for example and other people will be able to see and hear him. However, there are a couple of disadvantages, namely, Seth will die at some point where as if he had stayed an angel, he would have stayed the same for eternity. Also, Seth goes along with fellow angels to a beach at morning and evening where he hears beautiful music that no human can hear. Eventually, Seth falls in love with Maggie, a doctor at the hospital and resorts to this somewhat drastic measure.
He is able to tell Maggie how he feels and to enjoy the pleasures of being alive. Fortunately, his love for Maggie is requited and they marry. Inevitably, Seth learns that as well as pleasures; there are trials to being alive. This becomes shockingly apparent when, shortly after their wedding, Maggie is killed by a car whilst out jogging. Seth is obviously heart broken and says to an angel friend “Did He order this? ” this is one of the few references to God in the film.
Personally, as a Christian, I think that the film is innovative in challenging the traditional view of angels but it has distorted it a little too much. I believe that religious issues should be made relevant to today’s society but the angels in this film bear little or no resemblance to anything mentioned either in the Bible or other holy texts. Being an angel is something that many Christians see as a goal in life. For example, in the film “It’s a wonderful life”, George Bailey’s guardian angel, Clarence has lead a good human life and is rewarded for it in heaven by becoming an angel.
There are different grades of angel, giving something for people to strive towards in heaven. In this film, Angels have never lived a human life and are almost a new species. I do not believe this to be particularly convincing from a Christian point of view because even God has lived a human life. I also found the fact that the angels had little or no contact with God confusing. After all, the very origin of the word is “messenger” at no point in the film did any angels deliver messages indeed it would be impossible if they can not be seen or heard by humans.