Reviews Film

Angels in America

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 11 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1412
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne, medical journalist
  1. New York

    An epic tale of the early years of AIDS is making many Americans realise how far they have come in the fight for healing and tolerance, and how far they still have to go

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    You won't see many masterpieces in your lifetime. Angels in America is one. This six hour film, broadcast in two three-hour parts on the premium cable channel HBO in the United States on 7 and 14 December and due to be shown in the United Kingdom next year, tells the story of AIDS in the Reagan era. Adapted from two award winning stage plays, it is an arresting portrayal of the fight against AIDS and for tolerance, shown through the loves and losses of all-too-human characters, in a climate of national hysteria. But it is also far more, setting the story of the early years of AIDS in the much larger context of American culture itself.

    Angels in America begins in 1985 on the West Side of New York with the funeral of an elderly Jewish woman. As a young girl she bravely fled pogroms, travelling by steerage for a chance at a better life in the United States. Among the prosperous mourners is her grandson, Louis, an …

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