What if angels walked among us, unseen? That’s the question explored in the 1998 film City of Angels, a romantic drama in which angels come to earth to help humans pass through the junction of life and death. The film, which is loosely based on the German movie Wings of Desire, focuses on Seth (Nicolas Cage), a somewhat melancholy angel who becomes enamored with emergency room doctor Maggie (Meg Ryan), after watching her anguish over the death of one of her patients. Fascinated by Maggie’s extreme emotion over a relative stranger, Seth decides to unveil himself to her. They start a friendship, which blossoms to something more, until Seth decides to leave the world of angels — dramatically jumping off a skyscraper — and become human to be with her. While viewers don’t get a true glimpse of heaven in this ill-fated love story, City of Angels shows the entry to the afterlife as many movies do — by passing through a bright, white light. Not quite original, but then again, neither is the story.
MORE: Read TIME’s Cover Story, “Rethinking Heaven”