Angels in America

by Tony Kushner

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Student Question

How does the main idea of the play Angels in America connect to the movie?

Expert Answers

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One way in which the main idea of the play connects to what the movie was saying and doing is through the use of dialogue.  Kushner's hand in writing the script for the film after having composed it for the stage is evident in how all of the characters speak of similar concepts. For example, every character speaks to the idea of change and transformation.  Kushner designs the script so that each character has some insight to offer about what change and transformation represents.  Louis speaks of it in a political sense, while Belize speaks of it in a mystical one.  Roy speaks of change in terms of power, while even the Mormon mannequin speaks of transformation in historical realities.  Mrs. Pitt speaks of change throughout her own being as a woman of tradition while Harper speaks of it in the fearful future context.  This is one way in which the film "does" what the main of the play is in speaking to the reality of transformation and change amongst individuals.

The main idea of the play is to show how the different contexts of individuals can have some common experience.  The film shows this through intersecting narratives.  Sometimes, this is deliberate, as in the case of showing Harper's experience and Prior's experience merge in the "threshold of revelation." At other times, this happens in the illumination of a theme, such as the breakups between Harper and Joe and Prior and Walter.  There are moments such as the immersion between Mrs. Pitt and the Angel in which the film is able to vividly display what the play is saying.  In these screen displays, the film seeks to speak and embody the main idea of the play.

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