"What oxygen is to the lungs," Swiss theologian Emil Bruner has written, "such is hope to the meaning of life."

When Gabriel Angel (Rakie Ayola), a buoyant young black woman from Grenada, sets sail for England on an ocean liner, she carries with her the blessings of family and friends. Her dreams of becoming an aviator make her spirit soar. All those who meet her aboard the ship are affected by her exuberance, innocence, and ardor.

Among their number are Duncan (Jonathan Pryce), an art forger whose mysterious past includes a series of missteps that have gotten him into deep trouble; Dr. Angela Bead (Vanessa Redgrave), a doctor who is traveling with her friend (Dorothy Tutin), a missionary for the past thirty years; and an art history professor (John Hurt) who sees himself as a devotee of both truth and beauty.

Shades of Fear is a delightfully enchanting tale filled with surprising epiphanies about the nature of reality and the mystery of love. Best of all, it hurrahs hope as a potent and positive human faculty that makes life worth living.