Even Los Angeles can look spiritual in 'City of Angels'
April 13, 1998
Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage
Web posted at: 5:40 p.m. EDT (2140 GMT)
HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- "City of Angels" debuted in the number-one
box office spot this weekend, perhaps indicating that
moviegoers were eager to see a pairing between Meg Ryan and
Nicolas Cage -- or maybe, to see how movie producers managed
to make the gritty, smoggy, and traffic-clogged environs of
Los Angeles seem heavenly.
While Los Angeles' celestial makeover may seem fantastic to
some, romantic lead Meg Ryan says her role in the film was
"I really think that any luck I've ever had in my life is
angelic work," she said, explaining her concept of angelic
beings. "I think that sometimes, when you least expect it,
someone will come up to you and say just the thing that you
needed to hear ... and you don't know that person."
As in the movie's 1987 predecessor "Wings of Desire" (German
writer/director Wim Wenders' script for that movie was the
basis for the remake), the good guys in "City of Angels" wear
black overcoats in lieu of white wings and hang out in
libraries and supermarkets.
Andre Braugher and Nicolas Cage are cast as two angels who
roam the Earth befriending humans. "We're not spiritual
superboys, but we are, in essence, spiritual companions,"
Cage's character, Seth, tries to comfort a pragmatic heart
surgeon (Ryan) after one of her patients dies on the
operating table for no apparent reason. He winds up falling
in love with her, but not without complications: As an
angel, he has no physical sensations -- he can't feel a kiss,
or taste a pear, for example.
"I think it's very hard to find a love story that works in
the way that this one does, because the people are together,
but they're not," Ryan said. "There's this brilliant
But it doesn't take a miracle, just a clever script, for Seth
to learn from former angel Dennis Franz that he can become
human -- "You jump off a bridge, you leap out a window. You
just make up your mind to do it and you do it."
"It celebrates life," Cage said. "The joy of being alive is
a beautiful thing, and you shouldn't take it for granted and
be bitter or jaded ... something as simple as the touch of
water on your body in the ocean, or the way the sun feels on
your face, these are enough to get through the day."
Audiences may not leave theaters believing in angels. But
perhaps, Braugher says, they will walk away with some faith
in the power of love.
"It's really the idea that transformation is possible in the
moments we think it's not, in our moments of despair, that is
the moment everything can change," he said.
Reporter Madeline McFadden contributed to this report.