Description of Heaven – Angels in America
There are few pieces of filmmaking I have revisited as often as Angels in America. I did so again yesterday…and while I love every scene, it is hard not to especially enjoy this one.
Jeffrey Wright plays the role of night nurse Norman Ariaga (“Belize” to his friends) – which he originated on the stage. Al Pacino plays Roy Cohn, a real-life political figure (famous from the McCarthy hearings) who has contracted AIDs.
Pacino’s performance is unforgettable, thanks in no small part to his getting some fantastic scenes…and yet it’s Wright who steals it.
Tell me you can watch that without getting chills.
Masterful writing. Masterful pacing. Acting, cinematography…everything about this scene is perfect. Not to mention its seemingly foreboding, yet spiritually hopeful prophecy.
(the woman who appears at the end is Ethel Rosenberg, a communist spy whom Cohn had executed during the hearings)
Angels in America dominated the 2004 Emmy awards, taking home all four Acting awards for TV Movie or Mini-Series (Pacino and Wright took the honors alongside Meryl Streep and Mary Louise Parker). The play on which it was based (which I have never seen and which I somehow must get around to seeing, though I’ve read endlessly about it) won the Tony Award for Best Play and a little thing called the Pulitzer Prize. Wright also took home the Tony for Best Featured Actor.
There are few things I like more than this, few things that made such a strong impression on me on simultaneous levels of craft appreciation, emotion, aesthetics, and yes, entertainment. If you haven’t experienced Angels in America…you just need to.