Since Christmas is nearly upon us, I’ve decided to list three of my favorite Angels from popular movies. Angels are perhaps the most iconic human-like creatures used during Christmas after Santa Claus and his Elf helpers. They are, additionally, commonly portrayed and discussed in contemporary modern day religions; most notably in Christianity and Islam. The winged angels have, also, begun a rapid rise in popularity as a motivating theme in young adult’s romance books; with examples which include Lauren Kate’s “Fallen” series of books and Becca Fitzpatrick’s “Hush Hush”. Even if, personally, I find the modern religious ideas about angels uninteresting, and the idea of teen girls daydreaming about angels a bit slightly inclined towards the weird, it is still hard to argue against the fact that there have been several interesting movies featuring angels as major motivators of the action, as the main protagonist of the film narrative, or just some great characters who have been angels with that old fashion angelic nature. Here are some of my favorites.
Gabriel from “Constantine” – played by Tilda Swinton, this adaption of the archangel is creepy, strange and fascinating. Gabriel appears at first in the film as a source of information to the main protagonist and anti-hero, the exorcist and demon hunting Constantine. Later, as Constantine tries to stop Satan’s son from Conquering and enslaving the world, which would manifest itself as an eternal reign of darkness, chaos and danger enveloping the world, her nature is revealed to be something other than what we would expect. the narrtive turns on the pivot that the Angel Gabriel, far from helping Constantine, has instead been working against him and, actually, has been in league with Satan’s Son from the onset of the action.
The best part in “Constantine” is by far Gabriel’s speech as she explains to Constantine why she literally desires the destruction of the world and the trial imposed on the human race. Gabriel has come to the conclusion that humans, in modern times, have devolved into a state of immorality and corruption, and so have fallen from deserving of God’s love and concern. Bringing about the end of times, which Satan Son wants, will change this, as she sees it, and bring about the necessary change to Humanity making them once again worthy of god’s attention. The Archangel Gabriel believes that it is only in times of hopelessness and misery that people can attain true goodness. So by destroying the world, and bringing about the eternal Dark Days, all humans will have to means to grasp at nobility, thus earning God’s love. Swinton’s performance is incredible, being able to make this deranged angel both utterly frightening, yet somehow sympathetic. You understand why she feels she must carry out the horrible plan she has devised, even if there’s no denying her lunacy. This is a very different Gabriel, and angelic character, than we usually find or expect (and female!), and is a notable reprieve from the stereotype.
“Constantine” is a decent movie, and definitely worth a watch for the special effects and the realization of Gabriel’s character and exposition. The films story centers on Constantine, a man who has the gift, and curse, to not only see angels and demons but also how to fight them.
The Metatron from “Dogma” – one of a generation of extraordinarily foulmouthed, yet, at the same moment, wise and sympathetic angels. The Metatron, played by Alan Rickman, is one of the highest ranking angels in heaven whose job is to carry messages to people chosen to hear the proclamations of god and to perform various “tasks” for him. Metatron, as played by Rickman, is an angel wildly expressive in his emotions, bringing a clarity to every gesture and tone whethter he’s angry, upset or annoyed. The Metatron, also is portrayed as a very clever being, and easily stumbles into talk about theological and existential problems whenever it is required or it is just on a mood. Here we have an angel who is a very enjoyable character indeed.
The dark comedy “Dogma” has several angels in it, but Rickman’s by far is the best and most enjoyable one, while also being the funniest in the large ensemble of angels populating this film. The protagonist in the film is a woman who unknowingly is related to Jesus, and therefore gets the mission to stop two fallen angels from reentering Heaven after being banished by god. If these angels achieve this goal the result would be the elimination of the world.
Kevin Smith directed this clever movie that not only has edgy, extremely funny humor but is surprisingly empowering to a number of social groups; in this film Jesus turns out to be black and God is a woman. This is pretty enjoyable for people who have been oppressed and annoyed by American fundamental Christians who get too wholly, and unrealistically, determine the characteristics of the “leading roles” in Christianity.
Clarence from “It’s a wonderful life” – Well, you can’t really deny what a memorable and delightful character this guy is. Clarence is nothing less than a true sweetheart. He’s clumsy, curious and devoted to doing good. He’s shown to enjoy literature very much, and during the entire narrative of the film he is shown reading Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, which is confirmed and a major plot device, in the last section of the film. Clarence, though seemingly a bumbler, is actually extremely verbally gifted, being able to deliver important messages when needed to keep the narrative and major character one track. One of his landmark scenes is when this distracted and deprived (of alcohol) angel is trying to order a drink in a bar; he’s curious about trying alcohol again yet has been dead for so long all the drinks he’s ordering no longer exist.
“It’s a wonderful life” is a classic and doesn’t really need any introduction here. But just in case some of you don’t know it, I’ll sum it up here: Clarence has descended to earth on Christmas Eve to stop a man, George Bailey, from taking his life. Since Bailey believes the world would have been a better place without him, Clarence decides to show him how truthfully terrible things would have been “if he had never been born”. The Story unfolds from this oddly enjoyable premise.
So those are my favorite cinematic Angels. Happy holidays to you all! If there’s any angels you feel should have been mentioned, don’t be shy to tell me!