Film: City of Angels

For other works of the same name, go here.

City of Angels is a 1998 film starring Nicolas Cage (far from his Nicolas Rage roots), Meg Ryan, and Sarah McLachlan's music. It's actually a Foreign Remake of a classic German film, Wim Wenders' 1987 drama Wings of Desire. Cage plays an angel who falls in love with Meg Ryan's character, a doctor, and chooses to fall from grace and become human.

If you want to watch the movie, reading the tropes that it contains will probably ruin it for you, so spoilers ahoy!


This film provides example of:

  • Cool Old Guy: Nathaniel Messinger, a former Angel who chose to become human.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Seth. He chooses to "fall," i.e. become a mortal human, to be with the woman he loves. This is irreversible. Then she promptly gets killed.
  • Diabolus ex Machina
  • Downer Ending: After Maggie's death, Seth is forced to spend the rest of his mortal life alone. He's not being punished but boy does it feel that way to the audience.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Averted. Maggie is an atheist until she receives proof that an angel is real.
  • Humanity Ensues: Messinger and eventually Seth.
  • Hyper Awareness: Messinger, who can sense Angels. It's because he used to be one.
  • Idiot Ball: Maggie probably would have noticed that truck pull out in front of her bike if she'd kept her eyes on the road.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted within the first five minutes.
  • I Never Told You My Name: A variation. Seth calls Maggie by name and when asked points out that she's wearing a nametag. Later, she pulls off the name tag and it only shows her last name.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Seth Plate?
  • Mood Lighting: The movie mostly takes place at sunrise, sunset, or in soft/dim light, which gives the movie a powerfully emotional feel. It's like a lighting version of Scenery Porn.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Other than in the title, the movie's angels are never referred to as such.
  • Our Angels Are Different: They walk around in black trenchcoats, look human, speak any language, can travel instantaneously, and can choose whether humans can see them. They have no sense of touch, taste or smell, cannot see color and do not feel fear. They also can choose to become human by literally falling, suicide-style.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Jordan, fairly obviously. He vanishes from the movie completely once Seth finally hooks up with Maggie.
  • Single Tear: Seth, when he realizes Maggie has died.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Angels cannot feel human emotions like fear and love.