Winged Wednesdays: On Re-Watching the Movie City of Angels

City of Angels

Several months ago, I wrote a post about what I thought were the best angel movies. What wasn’t on that list was the movie City of Angels. I didn’t include it, because I preferred the German version, Wings of Desire.

However, I recently had a chance to re-watch City of Angels on TV, and have to admit it’s not bad. The cable company marked it as a solid 3 stars, and I’ve have to agree.

Awkward Moments:

Okay, there were some awkward moments:

Nicholas Cage’s besotted, serene expression, felt insincere, and well… awkward. My guess is that he was trying to demonstrate angelic love, but it seemed flat. Too bad this film was made before visual effects really took off. Some way to show he was otherwordly might have helped.

How about the first time Nicholas Cage appeared to Meg Ryan in the hospital corridors? Perhaps, I’ve seen too many instances of Criminal Minds, but if some strange guy knew me by name I would have pegged him as a sociopath and called security. Just Sayin’.

Then there’s Meg Ryan fantasizing about Nicholas Cage in the bathtub while she’s caressing her cheek with a beer bottle. That’s a little bit trailer park, right?

All three of those moments had me squirming in my seat, and not in a good way.

So, I breathed through that, happy I was watching it alone so nobody could tease me and have to give credit where it’s due.

Good Moments:

The notion of angels having no physical sensations, no wings. “What would be the point of flying if you can’t feel the wind on your face?” is a brilliant line.

The way the angels gathered to listen to the sunrise and sunset. That was cool. As were the scenes of all the angels watching Seth and Maggie in the library.

Nathaniel Messenger. That guy made the whole movie. Even though his character was completely lifted from Peter Faulk’s in Wings of Desire, he was still great.

The music. Songs like Sarah McLachlan’s Angel, Peter Gabriel’s I Grieve, and Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls are classic.

Sad Moments:

All in all, if you’re a fan of angels, City of Angels is worth seeing. But bring a box of kleenex, because if you haven’t seen this film before, there’s definitely a weepy moment (if a little corny) at the end.

Then, once you’ve seen it, watch Wings of Desire.


How about you. Have you seen City of Angels? How about Wings of Desire? Which one did you prefer?


If you saw CoA only, do check out WoD.

And how do you feel about North American remakes of European films? Do you prefer the originals or like to see Hollywood versions?

Note: The comments contain spoilers for CoA, if you haven’t seen it. If you have, what did you think of the ending?


4 thoughts on “Winged Wednesdays: On Re-Watching the Movie City of Angels

  1. S says:

    Having seen `Wings of Desire`when it first came out, I was deeply annoyed by the amercanized version of it. There will be spoilers here, people so if you haven`t seen either of these movies- pass this by.
    Wings of Desire…. it has been years since I saw this but these are the things that stand out for me.
    – shows the angels at work all over Berlin, comforting the sad on a bus, holding an accident victim until help comes and whispering in his ear that it will be okay … and sitting across from people in libraries silently adoring them.
    – every time an angel walks by a person you can hear what that person is thinking, in their native language
    -the angel scenes are al in black and white (as is the perspective of an angel) and the human scenes are in technocolour
    – every scene with Peter Falk- from being recognized by a gang of German skinheads as`Columbo` to the outdoor scene where he speaks of the simple joy of a hot cuppa coffee on a cold day
    – the footprints between the Berlin Walls once the angel is solid

    City of Angels:
    -irrtitates me that they kill Meg Ryan`s character at the end of City of Angels. In the original, WoD, our heroic angel wins his lady love and is still happily with her for the sequel, when his angelic partner gets into some hot water and needs his help (and that of Peter Falk- who is sensational in WoD) It seemed cruel and vindicitive to reward a lover that would sacrifice so much by killing his beloved. It felt cheap and hurried and like they couldn`t think of a better way to end it so lets just ‘kill the girl…’
    its so manipulative….

    • lvoisin says:

      Hi S! Thanks for visiting. I also truly preferred WoD, but wanted to give CoA a fair mention. I also really, really, REALLY didn’t like the ending, but didn’t want to have any spoilers on my main post. Come to think of it, the movie is almost 15 now… That being said, I’m curious to see if anyone else hated the end as much as I did.

  2. Tina Gilbertson says:

    We Americans specialize in remaking foreign movies that don’t need to be remade because the original is perfect as-is. “The Ring” is just one example (“Ringu” in Japan), and together we could probably come up with dozens of others. Making them in English rarely adds to the experience, even for English speakers, and often the remake falls far short of the original.

    • lvoisin says:

      Thanks Tina, I tend to agree with you on that one. Perhaps it’s a way of making a good story more mainstream. Usually, foreign films are so well made, but because they aren’t promoted through the usual methods, people don’t know about them. So many good stories, movies, and music is labeled “Indie” and therefore less known…. but that’s a whole other topic 🙂

      Thank you for visiting!

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