Throwback Review: “Gabriel” Dusts Off The Age-Old Topic

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About a year ago my interest in anything dealing with angels was at its highest which eventually led me to discovery of Gabriel, an Australian movie made in 2007 and directed by Shane Abbess. Though it generated very mixed responses from people, I found it strangely fascinating.

The movie follows archangel Gabriel (Andy Whitfield) as he is sent to purgatory where an eternal battle between heaven and hell over human souls still continues. There are seven archangels from heaven and seven fallen angels from hell, all of them must assume human form when entering purgatory. Gabriel is the last of the archangels to be sent and he tries to find the rest of them upon arriving. As the movie progresses Gabriel learns what happened to others and hunts down the fallen angels, in the process saving Jade who used to be archangel Amitiel but was forced to fall from grace by Sammael, the leader of the fallen angels.

Despite the simple and overused plot, and couple of cliches here and there, Gabriel has a unique style and a very strong ensemble of actors, making it worth seeing. Even though the movie was made on a very low budget, I didn’t notice it dramatically affecting the quality. If anything, the minimalistic and stylized look of the picture created a unique dark atmosphere that made Gabriel stand apart. The music, composed by Brian Cachia, did not stand out on its own but seamlessly weaved into the overall mood of the movie.

I was impressed by how rounded and memorable every character was, even if he or she only had several minutes of screen time. For instance, Balan (one of the Fallen) had only one real scene – the scene with Amitiel, yet Brendan Clearkin made his character so repulsive and unlikable that I remembered him long after I watched the movie. Harry Pavlidis who portrayed archangel Uriel also did an excellent job both in characterization and appearance, I could really believe that he lived in a trailer all on his own for a long time. Sammael, played by Dwaine Stevenson, had an especially demonic and menacing appearance complete with white eye lenses. Samantha Noble had a certain other worldliness and simplicity to her that complemented her portrayal of Amitiel.

Andy Whitfield certainly made for a strong lead and his journey as Gabriel was a fascinating one to watch. I found the opening sequence to the movie particularly interesting, where Gabriel just arrives to purgatory and is not quite used to his human form yet. Another nice touch was the bright blue color of eyes for the archangels whenever they showed their real selves or used their powers.

I would recommend to see Gabriel at least once and get acquainted with its moody dark world and fascinating characters.

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