Angels in America (miniseries)
|Angels in America|
|Written by||Tony Kushner|
|Directed by||Mike Nichols|
|Theme music composer||Thomas Newman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Producer(s)||Celia D. Costas|
Antonia Van Drimmelen
|Running time||352 minutes|
|Original release||December 7 – December 14, 2003|
Angels in America is a 2003 American HBO miniseries directed by Mike Nichols and based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play by the same name by Tony Kushner. Set in 1985, the film revolves around six New Yorkers whose lives intersect. At its core, it is the fantastical story of Prior Walter, a gay man living with AIDS who is visited by an angel. The film explores a wide variety of themes, including Reagan era politics, the spreading AIDS epidemic, and a rapidly changing social and political climate.
HBO broadcast the film in various formats: two 3-hour chunks that correspond to Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, as well as six 1-hour "chapters" that roughly correspond to an act or two of each of these plays; the first three chapters ("Bad News," "In Vitro," and "The Messenger") were initially broadcast on December 7, 2003, to international acclaim, with the final three chapters ("Stop Moving!" "Beyond Nelly," and "Heaven, I'm in Heaven") following.
Angels in America was the most-watched made-for-cable film in 2003, garnering much critical acclaim and multiple Golden Globe and Emmy awards, among other numerous accolades. In 2006, The Seattle Times listed the series among "Best of the filmed AIDS portrayals" on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of AIDS.
It is 1985, Ronald Reagan is in the White House, and AIDS is causing mass death in the Americas. In Manhattan, Prior Walter tells Louis, his lover of four years, that he has AIDS; Louis, unable to handle it, leaves him. As disease and loneliness ravage Prior, guilt invades Louis. Joe Pitt, a Mormon and Republican attorney, is pushed by right-wing fixer Roy Cohn toward a job at the United States Department of Justice. Both Pitt and Cohn are in the closet: Pitt out of shame and religious turmoil, Cohn to preserve his power and image. Pitt's wife Harper is strung out on Valium, causing her to hallucinate constantly (sometimes jointly with Prior during his fever dreams) and she longs to escape from her sexless marriage. An angel with ulterior motives commands Prior to become a prophet.
Prior is helped in his decision by Joe’s mother Hannah and by Belize, a close friend and drag queen. Joe leaves his wife and goes to live with Louis but the relationship doesn't work out due to ideological differences. Roy is diagnosed with AIDS early on and as his life comes to a close he is haunted by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. As the film continues, these lost souls come together to create bonds of love, loss, and loneliness and in the end, discover forgiveness and overcome abandonment.
- Al Pacino as Roy Cohn
- Meryl Streep as Hannah Pitt / Ethel Rosenberg / The Rabbi / The Angel Australia
- Patrick Wilson as Joe Pitt
- Mary-Louise Parker as Harper Pitt
- Emma Thompson as Nurse Emily / Homeless woman / The Angel America
- Justin Kirk as Prior Walter / Leatherman in park
- Jeffrey Wright as Mr. Lies / Norman "Belize" Ariaga / Homeless man / The Angel Europa
- Ben Shenkman as Louis Ironson / The Angel Oceania
- James Cromwell as Henry, Roy's doctor
- Michael Gambon as Prior Walter Ancestor No. 1
- Simon Callow as Prior Walter Ancestor No. 2
The soundtrack of the series by Thomas Newman was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
Cary Brokaw, executive producer of the series, worked for over ten years to bring the 1991 stage production to television, having first read it in 1989, before its first production. In 1993, Al Pacino committed to playing the role of Roy Cohn. In the meantime, a number of directors, including Robert Altman, were part of the project. Altman worked on the project in 1993 and 1994, before budget constraints forced him to move out, as few studios could risk producing two successive 150-minute movies at the cost of $40 million. Subsequently, Kushner tried squeezing the play into a feature film, at which he eventually failed, realizing there was "literally too much plot," and settling for the TV miniseries format. While Kushner continued adapting the play until the late 1990s, HBO Films stepped in as producer, allocating a budget of $60 million.
Brokaw gave Mike Nichols the script while he was working with him on Wit (2001) starring Emma Thompson, who also co-adapted the play of the same title. The principal cast, including Meryl Streep, Pacino, and Thompson, having recently worked with Nichols, was immediately assembled by him. Though Ben Shenkman had previously portrayed Louis in the San Francisco A.C.T.'s production (as well as portraying Roy Cohn in the NYU graduate acting program's workshop of Perestroika prior to its Broadway opening), Jeffrey Wright was the only original cast member to appear in the Broadway version, having won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor for his stage performance. The shooting started in May 2002, and after a 137-day schedule, ended in January 2003. Filming was done primarily at Kaufman Astoria Studios, New York City, with important scenes at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. The Heaven sequence was shot at Hadrian's Villa, the Roman archaeological complex at Tivoli, Italy, dating early 2nd century.
Special effects in the series were by Richard Edlund (Star Wars trilogy), who created the two important Angel visitation sequences, as well as the opening sequence wherein the angel at the Bethesda Fountain opens its eyes in the end, signifying her "coming to life".
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the series a 90% 'fresh' rating based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 10/10. The critical consensus reads "In Angels of America, writer Tony Kushner and director Mike Nichols imaginatively and artistically deliver heavy, vital subject matter, colorfully imparted by a stellar cast." The New York Times wrote that "Mike Nichols's television version is a work of art in itself." According to a Boston Globe review, "director Mike Nichols, and a magnificent cast led by Meryl Streep have pulled a spellbinding and revelatory TV movie out of the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning work" and that he "managed to make "Angels in America" thrive onscreen..."
Awards and nominations
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In 2004, Angels in America broke the record previously held by Roots for the most Emmys awarded to a program in a single year by winning 11 awards from 21 nominations. The record was broken four years later by John Adams.
- Broadcast Film Critics - Best Picture Made for Television (won)
- Directors Guild of America (DGA) - Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television - Mike Nichols (won)
- GLAAD Media Awards - Best Miniseries or Film Made for TV (won)
- Grammy Awards - Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media - (Thomas Newman)
- National Board of Review - Best Film Made for Cable TV (won)
- Producers Guild of America (PGA) - Producer of the Year Award in Longform - Mike Nichols, Cary Brokaw, Celia D. Costas and Michael Haley (won)
- Satellite Awards:
- Best Miniseries (won)
- Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film - Meryl Streep (won)
- Best Supporting Actor - Justin Kirk (won)
- Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film (Al Pacino)
- Best Supporting Actor - (Mini)Series or Film Made for TV (Patrick Wilson)
- Best Supporting Actor - (Mini)Series or Film Made for TV (Jeffrey Wright)
- Best Supporting Actress (Mary-Louise Parker)
- Best Supporting Actress - (Mini)Series or Film Made for TV (Emma Thompson)
- Screen Actors Guild (SAG):
- Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie: Al Pacino (won)
- Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie: Meryl Streep (won)
- Best Actor — Miniseries or Film Made for TV (Justin Kirk)
- Best Actor — Miniseries or Film Made for TV (Jeffrey Wright)
- Best Actress — Miniseries or Film Made for TV (Mary-Louise Parker)
- Best Actress — Miniseries or Film Made for TV (Emma Thompson)
- Angels in America:Overview The New York Times
- An AIDS anniversary: 25 years in the arts Archived June 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Seattle Times, June 25, 2006.
- Part one Film4
- Part two Film4.
- Edgerton, Gary Richard; Jeffrey P. Jones (2008). "10. Angels in America". The essential HBO reader. University Press of Kentucky. p. 136. ISBN 0-8131-2452-2.
- Buckley, Michael (26 Nov 2003). "STAGE TO SCREENS: HBO's "Angels in America" Plus a Chat with "Angels" Co-star Ben Shenkman". Playbill. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- Trivia IMDB
- "Angels in America". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Critics Choice:Movies by Anita Gates, The New York Times, April 17, 2005.
- TELEVISION REVIEW: HBO infuses `Angels' with new life Nichols, cast triumph in inspiring production By Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe Staff, 12/5/2003.
- Love In the Time Of Reagan. CinemaQueer.
- Angels in America. National Center for Biotechnology Information, United States National Library of Medicine, review.
- Winged Victory. New York Magazine television review.
- America, Lost and Found. The New Yorker.
- How HBO, Mike Nichols and Tony Kushner Brought Angels in America to the Screen. Paste Magazine.
- TV: Gay characters, themes found more acceptance and popularity in 2003. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- The Lector Effect. Slate Magazine review arguing that the miniseries "gets Kushner wrong".
- Angels in America. Variety review.
- Angels in a Changed America. The Village Voice.
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