What was the movie version of Angels in America saying and doing?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The film version seeks to bring to the screen what Kushner brought to the stage.  The director, Mike Nichols, was deliberate in this process.  Kushner wrote the script for the film and was an essential part of the transferral from stage to screen.  Kushner's input was something that Nichols took very seriously in the project's conception stages.  The result was that the film sought to do what the play did in cinema form.

The reality of change and transformation is a major theme of the drama.  The movie was able to capture this through techniques that allowed the viewer to understand how change and transformation impacts different characters in similar ways.   For example, the break up scene between Joe and Harper is juxtaposed to the emotional "divorce" of Louis and Prior.  The use of similar music that continues in both settings helps to enhance the change and transformation theme present.  The constant use of cuts and close ups between both illuminates how change and transformation looks different to those who want it and those who receive it.  Seeing Prior's disbelief and Louis' cruelty and Harper's disbelief and Joe coming out is a way in which the film is able to capture the play's themes and sensibilities through cinematic technique.  

Like the play, the film is making a specific statement about how society views and accepts the presence of change.  While Kushner was writing about the gay and lesbian community in America during the 1980s, he understands that the movie version can speak to a generation impacted by the events of September 11:

...It was written long before 9/11 happened. But it is a play with an apocalyptic sensibility. We're still very much children of the millennium. We're a millennial generation. This play, I think... (has) something to say about that.

The release of the film is one way in which its social context seeks to do the same thing as the play did.  Both articulate the condition of change and transformation as a part of being in the world.