I feel completely knackered. We just finished watching the 5-or-6-hour version of ‘Angels in America’, you know the multi-Golden Globe winner with Al Pacino and Meryl Streep playing a rabbi, among other roles. Maybe people have finished debating the matter long time ago, but here in the backwater it was really hot to chance upon the double DVD in the local video club.
So, yes, I am knackered. In this supersized, all-over-the-place story (someone must explain to authors that a novel can have at most 12 themes, a mini series up to 5 and a play 3 to 4 — roughly speaking) the following topics are extensively negotiated: American politics, American history, the Christian Right, Queer identity, denial, race, the Justice system, political power, sexual politics, human weakness, the meaning of love, the urban-rural rift, God, the position of intellectuals in contemporary America, Jewishness, death, disease, progress and stasis, drugs, strength in the face of pain, sexual politics, pain itself, afterlife, hypocrisy, corruption, maccarthyism, conservatism as a disease (by far the most interesting bit) and, to a lesser extent, many more…
I could recognise some brilliant dialogue (maybe pasted from the original play, which I haven’t seen). And that was all. The metaphysical-angelic element was so bloody awkward and garbled that it made the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ look like ‘Paradise Lost’ itself. Ok, during the first hour, both myself and Jod were staring at the screen in complete and overpowering awe. Wow. Wow. Wow. Even Gizmo the cat took an interest. And then four (or five — can’t tell) hours of a mess, a sort of gay ‘Ten Commandments’ set in the heart of republican darkness. Why oh why. Why did they do that to the play? (now I will have to see it.)
I realise that some see in what I have just endured a profound and incisive, yet optimistic and tongue-in-cheek, look into Reagan America against the backdrop of personal suffering as well as the politics of AIDS. True. I am actually sure this is exactly what the play is about. So, whose idea was that extra 200 or so minutes?
I need coffee now. But before that: now that it is mainly poor African women dying of HIV, it’s no longer a powerful topic, is it? Not to mention that I sometimes feel Americans are so keen on profound and incisive looks into x America (where x=corporate, middle class, 50s, blahblah blahblah), that they miss basic things about what is going on in the rest of the world.