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In the movie Constantine, during the climax in the mental hospital, Gabriel is shown wearing many hospital bracelets.

Constantine and Gabriel

What, if anything, do these bracelets signify?

Neither the official novelisation nor the original script mention Gabriel's costume.

The question has been asked (and answered) over on the Movies & TV Stack: "Gabriel's Wristbands in Constantine" . However, I find the answers, even the accepted one, unacceptable, since they are all speculation, although they do establish that the bracelets read "Awakening", "Sorrow", "Rage", "Passion", "Love", "Joy", and "Melancholy".


‡ Thanks to @Richard for finding it.

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    @Richard - Gabriel, being an Angel (using the term loosely), is neither male, nor female. Gabriel (with regard to this character in this movie) is an "IT". A lot of people tend to refer to the character in the movie as being a "she" because it was played by Tilda Swinton. She can do androgyny quite well, yah think? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 6 '15 at 21:35
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    @Paulster2 - In both the novel and the script, Gabriel is referred to as "he". – Valorum Jun 6 '15 at 21:42
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    @Richard because they have to write something he or she, "it" will look weird :D – Victor Salazar Jun 7 '15 at 11:59
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    @AnkitSharma - Many novels avoid using pronouns entirely. – Valorum Jun 7 '15 at 12:18
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    @VictorSalazar - Someone should go and tell them... – Valorum Mar 29 at 11:46
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According to the film's director (on the disk audio commentary), the hospital bracelets signify various human 'aspects' and were written by Gabriel in order to remind him why he's doing what he's doing.

The original idea was to have writing directly onto Tilda Swinton's arms. The bands were a last-minute addition to the costume at Swinton's urging.

Francis Lawrence: These bracelets, which are hospital bracelets, which... This was something that I thought of because I was imagining originally, I was going to write on my arms, like, notes. Kind of Travis Bickle in the last scene, you know ... A few notes about actually what the revolution's all about. And so they have a variety of different aspects written on them. That was her idea, which I thought was fantastic.

It was just this really subtle thing. I liked the image just of all the hospital bracelets lined up but then when you see sort of all the words that are sort of the reasons for why she's doing what she's doing. I thought was just fantastic. Just to remind Gabriel if Gabriel has any doubts what humanity's about or, you know, why it's all worth it.

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  • So basically it's Gabriel's self-convincing that it's the right thing to do. It's also funny that they say "she", as in the actress, while speaking about the character. – Clockwork Mar 29 at 8:19
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    @Clockwork - In this instance, the director appears to be conflating Tilda Swinton ("her idea") with Gabriel. He's pretty consistent otherwise in the commentary. – Valorum Mar 29 at 8:21
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As John Constantine constantly reminds everyone, Gabriel is a half-breed - part human, part angel. Gabriel wears five hospital bracelets on one arm:

Gabriel raising a knife - five hospital bracelets are seen

And we know that one says "Passion" and another says "Sorrow"

Close up on hospital bracelets

There are others, but I can't read them.

Gabriel in hospital outfit

In any case, all the words people have claimed to have seen - "Awakening", "Sorrow", "Rage", "Passion", "Love", "Joy", and "Melancholy" - are human emotions, aside from "Awakening". This seems to be a reference to Gabriel's status as a half-breed, which makes her more prone to the vagaries of human emotion than a true angel would be. It is also possible that it is intended to foreshadow her imminent demotion to 'mere human' status.

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His entire outfit has a 'mental hospital' theme to it, being that it looks like it's something made out of a straitjacket. Likely the entire outfit, armbands included, symbolize Gabriel's insanity. Because he hasn't turned evil, he has actually just gone insane.

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    This seems like pure speculation – Valorum Dec 11 '17 at 8:53
  • More pure speculation, but it always looked like a riff on a fighter pilot's G-suit to me. I have no idea what the symbolism of that is. – Hfuy Mar 9 at 0:27

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