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RELEASED: 1985, Cert.15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 148 mins
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
PRODUCERS: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Quincy Jones
MUSIC: Quincy Jones
SCREENPLAY: Menno Meyjes
Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Harris
Danny Glover as Albert Johnson "Mister"
Akosua Busia as Nettie, Celie's sister
Margaret Avery as Shug
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Based on Alice Walker's novel of the same name, The Color Purple is set in the Southern States (presumably somewhere like Alabama) during the early part of the 20th century and tells the story of Celie Harris, who experienced a terrible childhood and was subjected to horrific abuse at the hands of her father. By her early teens, she had already given birth to two children, fathered by her own father, who took them away from her and sold them to childless couples. When she is still very young, Celie's father forces her to marry Albert, a widower who has several children and owns a farm.
Albert is quite a bit older than Celie and he treats her as his punchbag, servant, general cook, bottle-washer and surrogate mother to his children, plus he insists she must always call him 'Mister'. Completely subjugated by Albert, the gentle, mouse-like Celie carries on with her life as best as she can, but her spirits are lifted when her long-lost sister Nettie comes to stay. After Albert throws Nettie out because she refuses his advances, he then invites an ex-girlfriend of his (Shug) to stay, and her presence in the house gradually turns a few tables around for Celie.
That's the very basic outline of the story, and to find out more, you must watch the film for yourself.
Firstly, I must say that I've never read the book of The Color Purple and I feel it is quite possible that it may explain one or two small areas of confusion I had about the beginning of the film. For instance, it wasn't clear to me as to whether Celie's childhood guardian and abuser was her father or stepfather, and later when she was forced to marry total brute Albert, I was bemused as to how a black man came to own a farm of that size during those times in America's Deep South....a time when although slavery had been abolished, black people in the area were still treated as second class citizens and weren't given the same chances in life as the white population.
I was very surprised to see Whoopi Goldberg play the role of a shy, downtrodden, totally intimidated young woman and I must say she acted her part beautifully. I loved the way she'd shyly put her hand close to her mouth each time she was 'allowed' to speak, almost as if she didn't feel herself worthy enough to voice an opinion on anything, and I adored the lovely way her eyes would gently light up with a half-hidden expression of mirth whenever, on the rare occasion, something would happen that amused her.
Danny Glover was perfect as the complete bastard Albert, accurately putting across how a domineering husband would be....one who considers his wife to be only one step up from pond life, existing only to serve him and accede to his every whim and demand without complaint.
Akosua Busia played Nettie, Celie's more outgoing and confident sister beautifully, and the interaction between the two women at various times oscillated between heartwarming and heart-rending.
I don't think anybody better could have been chosen than Margaret Avery as Shug, the rather sassy jazz/blues singer ex-girlfriend of Albert. She gave a splendid performance that oozed a combination of a rather gravelly hard-nut made cynical by the ravages of life, and in her more reflective moments, a woman who saw a lot and had a cutting-edge understanding of Celie's complete lack of self-esteem.
As far as my opinion of The Color Purple as a whole goes, there was something about it which was a little lacking, yet I can't quite put my finger upon what. I had the feeling that something important - right through the film - was being left out, and I'd like to have seen some more 'grounding', because strange as it may seem, I actually felt that if the story/situation were real, Celie's abuse would have been far more brutal than it - to me - comes across in the film. I realise that sounds weird as no doubt many people do find Celie's childhood and marriage experiences heart-rending to the end of the line. Maybe I'm trying to say that I felt it had all been a bit 'prettied' up? It's very difficult to accurately explain what I mean.
However, I very much enjoyed The Color Purple and can say that despite it being a very long film, it seemed to fly by time-wise, and I put that down to it being utterly absorbing and spellbinding....sometimes tragically and at other times warmly.
I liked the ending of the film very much, even though I'm not quite sure how to accurately interpret it. I'd guess maybe it's one of those things where we're supposed to make our own minds up?
One thing (aside from the superb acting) which really impressed me about The Color Purple was the music. I love and have a deep affinity with music, especially black music, from that part of the world through most of the 20th century and heartiest accolades to Quincy Jones for delivering the goods. Love that barrel-house boogie, even though there was only a little bit of it.
I would strongly recommend anybody who's not seen The Color Purple to give it a viewing, yet hand out a warning to be prepared to find the way Celie is treated by her father (stepfather?) and husband Albert quite upsetting, especially so if you've been or are a victim of similar abuse.
The Color Purple walked away with many awards, which I feel are well-deserved, but don't let those awards lure you into thinking it's some kind of Hollywood blockbuster containing blood, guts, car chases or to be in any way sensationalist. It's a somewhat deep and reflective film which I personally think could stand up more strongly if it were shown as a play rather than a cinematic production.
At the time of writing, The Color Purple can be purchased (DVD) on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.52 to £13.53
Used: from £1.99 to £6.00
Collectible: Two copies available, priced at £5.99 and £6.00
I have had a quick scout through YouTube and currently, The Color Purple is available to watch in full on YouTube. The upload is in 15 sections, each lasting around the 9:58 mins mark. Also, there are quite a few clips/trailers you can watch, of variable length.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
The Color Purple is a superbly emotional film from director Steven Spielberg which focuses on the reflections of writer Alice Walker set in the deep south in the 1930's at a time when human rights were ignored and racial bigotry flourished in a part of America that never came to terms with the abolition of slavery. However the film is as much about domestic violence and child abuse, two evils that are colour blind as they happen in many societies, black, white, yellow or brown.
Whoopi Goldberg plays the central character Celie in what is such a stunning performance partly because it is delivered in such an understated way so far removed from her comic persona, the first time I watched it I could not believe that she could perform so convincingly.
Equally impressive is the performance of Danny Glover as her violent husband Albert, the man using his physical prescence to emphasise the threat that he carries in some rather disturbing rape scenes. In fact the whole cast are mighty impressive in this film with some fine supporting performances.
The whole m ovie is a powerful journey through some complicated relationships, even down to the pity and concern Celie feels for her husbands new mistress rather than any feelings of jealousy and anger you might have expected her to feel.
The Color Purple is an emotional roller coaster and a film that really does tug on the heart strings, it is a film that deserves more than one viewing and also deserves the five stars that I will be giving it.
If only Cecile had been around as a young person in the Martin Luther King era of the sixties and living as an African American then - perhaps she could have been a human rights activist, fighting in civil rights campaigns and crimes against humanity that went on to born civil rights for women of all creed and background, throughout the western world.
The Color Purple is primarily based upon the prolific black-slavery culture in 30s pre-war southern America as a direct strong contrast to the political and domestic freedoms western cultures at least, were privileged in exercising human liberties that Cecile's typecast generation couldn't. The story narrative is based upon true recollections the author Alice Walker wrote of her personal experiences and memories of a time in history when childhood abuse and domestic violence for instance, were considered fictional realities compared with the mass slaughtering of Vietnamese women and children in the 70s, modern civilization would now equate the two, every bit as barbaric. The stunning truth in a genuine age of realization-Aquarius, renders The Color purple a monumental testimony to just how far we as a human race have come in our political, moral and civilized triumphs compared to that of lesser-free third world countries, still to this day, struggling to fight for the same kind of liberation we westerners are extremely fortunate.
Having read the epistolary novel of the Color purple, It must taken some real solid-gold-bravery to translate the brutality and painful hardships this real life chronicle reveals the lesser niceties of humanity especially given the fact that it had attempted to shed a lot of exposed light on childhood abuse and child sexual abuse (a prevalent) dark side of humanity that has until recent times, been shoved under the carpet in all cultures, the media have grown mature within the last few decades and cottoned on to the viewers expectations for broader-themed tabloid and televised current affairs.
Although child abuse isn't the chief theme of what the novel itself explores; it certainly is part of its central feature that has since inspired other releases of films that have bought to the fore, the consequences of childhood abuse crimes and domestic violence within relationships that rightly, need addressing. When you consider that since the making of this film in 1985, many cases of unreported child abuse claims, are hitting our news headlines daily, that date back some decades. It came as such an exceptional revelation then, that this multi-themed interest drama epic, broached a subject matter, the author of the novel Alice Walker, had no idea of the sheer impact it would have on later media exposure of childhood abuse in particular.
Translation from novel to film:
Nothing, I imagine could have prepared Steven Spielberg in the making of the title "The color Purple" given the sheer historical magnitude of the story that raised awareness of so much human suffering within a racially-inspired context. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, would take considerable ambition and passion to carve a film adaption of the story into an equally stunning franchise without it being biased in any part of its creation. The main themes that the book covers, became Spielberg's own mammoth task that, although he is phenomenal as an experienced novelist and script writer, this was his first cinematic effort as a director, to go much deeper than the inventive novelties of science-fiction escapism that he is highly renowned and won multiple Oscars.
Trying very hard to find information as to how it was that Spielberg became involved in the creation of "The Color Purple" is like threading cotton into the eye of a minuscule needle! - My guess is that he was searching for a project that would extend and stretch his own creative talents as a film genius and somehow met with the opportunity after reading the epic novel and feeling extremely moved by its controversial impact - Alice Walker could easily have declined Spielberg's enthusiasm to flourish her masterpiece if she at all doubted his triumphant expertise, the result of which, Alice's decision couldn't have nominated anyone as awe-inspiring as Spielberg whose books and films leave me utterly spellbound!
Cast and film:
The story of the "Color Purple" relates the life of Celie, performed by outstandingly funny-woman Whoopi (comic-genious) Goldberg, whose capabilities as a versatile actress had gone unnoticed in her previous typecast comedy roles. Cast as Celie, nothing prepares you for her sheer illuminating brilliance as a multi-dimensional and very likeable character, Whoopi herself wholeheartedly placed herself in the shoes of Cecile, a Southern black woman well-nigh sold into a life of servitude to her disturbingly-violent-sick husband sharecropper Albert played by gentle-giant Danny Glover, whose earlier acting talents include roles in "Deadly Drifter" He is also a highly publicized campaigner for black-rights since his college years, which must have undoubtedly stripped him of some pride to play the role of a character he is certainly not in real life and not give any credibility for what he then and still represents in real-life political spheres. Spielberg captures the contrast of Whoopi and Danny confidently steady, despite the fragile tension that must have emerged in their victim and tyrant character roles under enormous pressure. I still flinch at the though of Danny Glover wielding a leery grin whilst administering rape that although I am aware that it is just a role he played, has left a permanent impression it will me time to shake off.
courageous and artistic Celie pours out her innermost thoughts in her diary-like letters to her sister Nettie (Akousa Busia), but deadly controlling Albert has been hiding the letters Nettie writes back, in an attempt to trick Celie that Nettie is in fact passed on from this life. Finally, Celie finds strength and support in "the don't-take-no-guff" Sofia played by powerful chat show host and delectable smart Oprah Winfrey, the wife of Glover's son from a previous marriage. Sofia's encounter with early white supremacists, has taught her humbling life experiences despite being on the receiving end of her superior's cruelty and disempowerment. Her sheer strength of character is overwhelmingly mighty as is her real life persona as a survivor of childhood abuse she has written and discussed extensively and why I admire her so much.
As the story unfolds further into plot, the introduction of Albert's mistress Shug (Margaret Avery) to Cecile, should be a welcome relief that she does not have to burden the sexual and physical torture alone, but knowing full well the horrors of her own suffering, does not want Shug to go through the same plight as herself even though Shug had done some abusing of Celie and adding to her humiliation in the beginning of her tenancy with Albert and Celie and his children. However, Celie forges a very strong friendship that unite them as lovers against Albert whose reckoning force knows no bounds, the two young women must survive his terror or be forever imprisoned by this heinous tirade.
As Celie's own confidence grows through Shug Avery's empowering witticism; alternative religious views and helping Celie discover her womanhood for the first time, all within the context of a hopeless situation, she is able to do some rooting through Albert's possessions and discovers the utmost betrayal he could ever forge her with - Nettie's letters that for years, should have been a source of vital connection Celie could have drawn such strength in the face of such grotesque existence.
The film concludes as Celie now a self-autonomous woman having changed the nature of her relationship with Albert from a servitude marriage into that of an equal working partnership, he assists her in her professional career as a seamstress he is more than happy to oblige her every command. Celie and her sister are reunited after an entire childhood apart and the color purple is no longer equated with suffering and pain.
Without the magnificent contribution from Jazz, Blues, Soul, Latin, Rock and Pop artist Quincy Jones, the film would not have kept afloat on heavily-themed content alone. Spielberg had asked Quincy to score the film alongside his regular partner, composer John Williams and came up with ever-so catchy feet tumbling: "Junk Bucket Blues" and "Sister's Theme" and less than happy: "I Ain't Gonna Sing No Mo" for which Jones now holds the "rare distinction" of having created sheet music for a Steven Spielberg film, very few composers get to have this vantage.
The Color purple is an epic 145 minute journey through a period in history drawing attention to Sexual inequality at its pip-post and the exploits of humanity at it's very worst and why it was nominated for eleven impressive Oscars! - The cast were chosen with character roles in mind and not just merely because of their individual star status that Spielberg is an extremely gifted director who knows that nothing can carry success in a film without having the right actors in the first instance and why I am such an avid admirer of all his works.
There will never be another film like the Color Purple, so it is a masterpiece creation that will survive forever as a poignant, non-yellow journalism no other rendition of a similar themed movie could extract the same realities in such a horseback way.
Living in America in the 1900's, Celie Johnson has had a pretty tough life. From a young age she was abused by her step-father and went on to have 2 of his children that he took from Celie at birth. Celie is then married to another abusive man, Albert (who Celie just calls Mister) and lives her life quietly trying to please everyone and raise Albert's kids. But when Albert moves in his mistress Shug, Celie starts to realise a few things about her life, and how important her own family is to her. Will Shug be able to save Celie from her loveless marriage, and unite her with her long-lost sister Nettie again?
This is not a film I would actually go out and actively look to watch simply because it is not at all my sort of film, I prefer something a little more silly and comedic, and a bit more light-hearted too. However, I had to watch this for my OU course as I hadn't yet read the book and wanted to see how the film would portray it. I had heard so many good things about it that I knew it would be worth a few hours of my time (almost 3 hours as it happens) so I was quite curious to watch it. After a bit of a disaster with a double-sided disc that caused me to watch the films latter half before the first (no wonder I was confused!), I finally got my act together and saw the whole thing, albeit somewhat backwards.
What first struck about the movie was the amazing acting of a young Whoopi Goldberg. She plays the downtrodden Celie so well, it is such an understated performance that just lights up the whole screen and makes it a joy to watch. Celie isn't an overly intelligent character, and Goldberg puts that across perfectly with her performance, her facial expressions telling a thousand words with ease. This is the film that shot Whoopi to fame and I can see why, her performance is stunning and captures the essence of Celie perfectly.
The rest of the cast also do a great job with an iconic story. I was really surprised by the performance of Oprah Winfrey, who these days is better known for her chat shows than her acting! However, Oprah is great as Sofia, a black woman who stands up for herself and ends up working as a maid for a white family. Oprah's a bit of a bigger girl in this movie, but her acting is really quite good - strong and controlled much like her character Sofia. Danny Glover played Mister (Albert), Celie's husband, and while he didn't quite match up to the superb Goldberg, he is convincing as the controlling and abusive husband who rules the roost. I also enjoyed watching Margaret Avery who played the part of Shug Avery, Albert's mistress and someone Celie admires. She was quite captivating as she's very different to the other female characters in the movie.
After seeing it, I am not surprised that this film won all of the awards that it did - I do however think it's a shame it was nominated for 11 Oscars and didn't win any! It portrays a time that is difficult for people living in this day and age to imagine but it does that so well. The wonderful direction of the talented Steven Spielberg is as always second to none, and captures the mood and feeling of the characters perfectly, without taking away from the important message throughout. He manages to weave some amazing African scenery through the latter part of the film, and for its time it is seamless and wonderful to watch. The whole thing; acting, soundtrack, scenery all works together to create a masterpiece, this really is movie making at its best.
While the subject matter may not be to everyone's tastes, and I can't deny I felt uncomfortable with the terminology for people bandied about in the movie, it really is an extraordinary film that completely does justice to a wonderful book, and that is a rare thing. It is the undeniable talent of Whoopi Goldberg as Celie that makes the film so good, as I just couldn't take my eyes off her when she was acting. I really enjoyed how the cast "aged" as well, the make up people did a great job with this as it really was convincing! This is one of those films you have to see in your lifetime, and if you do, try to read the book too - both are just amazing. Simply brilliant.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Alice Walker (Novel) and Menno Meyjes (screenplay)
Running Time: 148 minutes
Danny Glover ... Albert
Whoopi Goldberg ... Celie Johnson
Margaret Avery ... Shug Avery
Oprah Winfrey ... Sofia
Willard E. Pugh ... Harpo Johnson (as Willard Pugh)
Akosua Busia ... Nettie Harris
Desreta Jackson ... Young Celie Harris
Adolph Caesar ... Old Mister Johnson
Rae Dawn Chong ... Squeak
Dana Ivey ... Miss Millie
Thank you for reading.
I am a big fan of Steven Speilberg and alot of his works and this movie 'The Color Purple' is no exception and is very powerful and moving and at the same time entertaining to watch. It should keep you glued to the screen like me for the duration. It's not always easy turning a great book into a great movie but he has managed to successfully do it here.
The film focuses on the story of Celie played by Desreta Jackson as the young Celie and Whoopi Goldberg as the grown up Celie. Whoopi Goldberg in particular is superb in her role. She is a girl who has problems in her personal life as her dad has no time for her and considers her ugly. However, this doesn't stop him from fathering two children born to her before she is even fourteen years of age. During this terrible time her only friend and confident is her sister Nettie played by Akosua Busia.
Celie is eventually married to Albert Johnson played by Danny Glover at a young age. He is an incredibly harsh man, however, and he is such an awful man that he abuses her so much during their marriage that it comes to the point that she doesn't even know her first name and calls him 'Mr' through fear of what he will do to her! Danny Glover plays this role brilliantly as it's not an easy one to perform.
Life is cruel on Celie and has been for her young life and it's up to her to keep the house going and cook, clean and work till she drops. Things are terrible for her until Nettie arrives trying to escape being raped by her father too. Things get heated however when Celie's husband throws her out for refusing his advances towards her.
The only way Celie can get by and live her life is through hope that one day things will improve for her and the story itself is uplifting in the sense that she becomes her own woman with a success story and finds happiness through sheer perserverence. Not many young girls would have continued the way she did through the adversity and abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and husband.
I felt the movie offered a meaningful and disturbing look at sexual and race relations at the start of the last century. In those days marriages were not honoured as much as they are today and women were really abused back then and not equal as today. Celie is constantly abused for not being well off or educated etc. and at times for being black.
If you've never seen this then it's worth seeing, although at times disturbing, but remains a very powerful movie that really hits home.
Spielberg is surely best known for his rousing adventure and family films like Indiana Jones and E.T., but he has also occasionally delved into famous fare, such as the amazing Schindler's List, and of course, the lesser known The Colour Purple. Once again, Spielberg proves himself a vital voice, although this time along considerably different lines, examining issues of race and gender.
The story is a harrowing and affecting examination of a young black woman (Whoopi Goldberg) attempting to gain affluence in a world by and large dominated by men. Without detailing spoilers, through the 154-minute, dialogue-heavy plot, she encounters a great deal of loss spiritually, and the rest of the film details her attempt to once again regain her position. What's most apparent is that this is the single-most starmaking turn by Goldberg, who succinctly cements the depression and depravity of her situation with a spellbinding performance. Danny Glover is also especially alluring as her abusive husband, who is undoubtedly heinours and incredibly crass, but the film has enough emotional and psychological plausibility to also make him well rounded and depict the reasons for his actions. Also there is an appearance from a barely recognisable Oprah Winfrey, who delivers a surprisingly palatable performance, and The Matrix star Laurence Fishburne also carves out another early performance.
While hardly anyone's favourite Spielberg film, The Colour Purple is a pungent drama that excels in every area; it is long, but Spielberg's direction is assured that there aren't too many scenes that feel padded or overlong. Every emotional moment rings true thanks to a script that's not platitude-infused, and the performances are of course absolutely immaculate.
This is one of the most underrated entries into his catalogue for sure.
Ive long come to expect any film that is directed by Stephen Spielberg to be something worth watching, and Ive rarely been disappointed, particularly not by this film. Set in the American South in the early twentieth century, it tells the story of a young black girl growing up under less than happy circumstances. Based on the book by Alice Walker, it deals with the subject matter in a beautifully sensitive way without being sickening.
Celie and her younger sister Nettie have a reasonably happy childhood until they reach puberty, when their father begins to take a little too much interest in them. Celie gives birth to two children by her father, both of whom are taken away from her at birth. Then a neighbour, Albert Johnson, marries Celie in order to provide his children with a mother and a housekeeper. Nettie, sick of fighting off her fathers advances, joins her sister for a short while, until Albert begins to make his moves on her. When she rejects him, he throws her out. She promises to write, but Celie never receives word from her.
Then her life is changed by the influence of two women. First, her step-sons wife, Sophia, who shows her that she does not have to put up with being beaten by her husband. Then, her husbands lover, Shug Avery moves in and the two become friends. Can Shug save Celie from her predicament? And will Celie ever meet her sister again?
Celie is played by Whoopi Goldberg, in a debut role that made her name for her. Celie is educationally sub-normal (I think thats the PC way of putting it) and doesnt have the strength to fight back against her attackers, yet she finds her own way of getting by. Whoopi Goldberg does a superb job of the role. She did not put a foot wrong throughout the whole film. Celie is not a talkative person, but her facial expressions were so vivid that words were just not necessary. She ages considerably throughout the film, but does so completely naturally. Much as I like Whoopi as an actress, I dont think she has since performed a role quite so spectacularly.
Oprah Winfrey does an excellent job as Sophia. She is a big woman obviously Oprah was going through one of her bigger phases at the time and is used to getting her own way. When her husband beats her, she beats him back and eventually leaves him. However, her feistiness eventually gets her into trouble. Ive never thought of Oprah as an actress before and was surprised at what a good job she did of the role, particularly towards the end of the film. Again, she ages and changes considerably, so much so that she is almost unrecognisable by the end of the film. Very impressive.
Margaret Avery plays the role of Shug Avery. Shug is a cabaret singer and Alberts lover and is initially very rude to Celie, who she sees as being stupid and ugly. But slowly, the two become very close friends. Shug is an attention seeker and so the subtleties of Averys acting arent as obvious as that of Goldbergs and Winfreys, but she still did an excellent job in the role.
Finally, there is Danny Glover, who plays the role of Albert Johnson. He is a deeply dislikeable man, who uses Celie and cheats on her with other women, yet at the same time, it is clear that he is this way because it is expected of him. He is definitely overshadowed by the quality of the actresses, but he nevertheless gives a strong performance.
Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
I havent read the book and so cant compare it with the film, but if it is anything as good as the film, it must be a real masterpiece. It is quite a long film, but there was never a point when I became bored. It is a sad story, but not one that is overly overindulgent - Celies powers of survival are incredible.
The cinematography is beautiful, particularly towards the end of the film when scenes of Africa are interwoven with scenes of the Johnsons household and the surrounding countryside. I also liked the use of red clothing that Shug wears and the purple of the flowers that are often shown it seems to signify hope. In case you were wondering why the film is called The Colour People, it is because of these flowers towards the end of the film, Shug notes that if you can walk through a field of purple and not notice the colour, then there is something wrong in your life.
Ive seen this film two or three times now and each time it just seems to get better. There is nothing I can find to criticise in it, except that perhaps the story of Celies pain and suffering during her rapes and beatings is not really dwelled on as much as it should have been purely to make the film more commercial.
I highly recommend this film. It is not easy to successfully portray the story of someones life over a period of time, but all due praise to the actors and their make-up artists they did a fabulous job.
I watched the film only version, but the DVD is available from play.com for just £5.99.
The Color Purple, based on the book by Alice Walker, is the emotional story of a womans search for happiness and love. Made in 1985 by Steven Spielberg, it was nominated for a whopping 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, two in Best Supporting Actress, and Best Song and Score; although this is slightly spoiled by the fact it failed to win any. Nevertheless, it remains a good piece of work.
The story is based around Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg), and it covers around 30 years of her life. It starts extremely bleakly, with Celie being raped by her father at the age of 14, and then forced into a marriage with Albert Johnson (Danny Glover), where she is beaten and split up from her beloved sister Nettie. However, when Celie meets Alberts former lover, the exotic singer Shug Avery (played by Margaret Avery), her life begins to improve, and she gets the courage to stand up from herself, leading to ultimately uplifting conclusions. Along the way the film deals with the multiple story strands of Nettie, who has moved to Africa as a missionary, Sofia (played by Oprah Winfrey), who is imprisoned for punching the white town mayor, as well as the relationships between Celie, Shug and Albert.
The first point I have to make is in comparing the film to the book. As always seems to be the case, Im afraid to say that this just doesnt live up to the brilliant novel by Walker. For the first half of the film it sticks extremely closely, frequently using passages directly from the book. However, after the midpoint stage, Spielberg begins to gloss over important scenes, as well as adding some of his own, such as a bizarre dream-like sequence on a train and a spiritual musical interlude. Also, those who have read the book will know how bleak and shocking the opening part is. I thought Spielberg could have captured this a little bit better, and that would help the audience to root for Celie even more. On the whole it was quite accurate, and any newcomers to the story wont know the difference; but for fans of the book such as myself, it was a little disappointing.
Another negative point that stuck in my head and kept annoying me was the frequent continuity errors concerned with the passing of time over the course of the story. Although the make-up effects were very realistic and Celie really did seem to grow older quite subtly, other characters changed bizarrely in the space of a couple of years. For example, Oprah Winfreys character Sofia went into prison looking fairly young and fresh. By the time she came out eight years later, she had grey hair and looked about twenty years older. Even worse than this was the fact that a group of young children from the beginning of the book just did not age. Over the space of around fifteen years, they all stayed the same age! I couldnt get it out of my head once Id noticed, and it somewhat spoiled the enjoyment of the film.
You see, there is a lot to enjoy in this film, despite its faults. The performances from a great cast were uniformly superb. Whoopi Goldberg is fantastic as Celie, portraying her characters fear and hopelessness very well indeed in only her second ever film. Margaret Avery is very glamorous as Shug, and her singing is one of the highlights of the film. Plus she has the same surname, which I thought was funny. But for me, the star of the show is Oprah Winfrey. Her sense of anger when confronted by the town-people, and also her weary, downtrodden attitude, are completely realistic. All three women were nominated for acting Oscars, and I thought Danny Glover is also excellent as the nasty Albert. The entire cast look so different to how they do now, especially a very young-looking Laurence Fishburne, or Larry as he is called in the credits.
The direction from Steven Spielberg is mostly excellent, and the Oscar nominated cinematography looks fantastic. The ranch where Celie lives was not as Id expected, and the snowy landscapes were also a surprise, but I thought that showed strong individual interpretation from the director. The parts he added were not always that relevant or necessary, but I thought he contrasted the scenes in America and Africa really well indeed by setting them up opposite each other. For example, as Celie is contemplating killing Albert with a razor, the film switches backwards and forwards between this, and children in the African tribe who are about to be cut on the face as part of a ritual.
For a director who sometimes lets the emotional side run away from him (see A.I. for that), I was sceptical that he would be able to handle such a sad book with enough subtlety. However, I was proved wrong. Of course, some scenes were bound to tug on the heartstrings, especially Celie and Nettie being harshly split up from each other, but on the whole these scenes remained fairly understated. The final image is particularly effective, as it returns to the childhood games they played as girls, and makes the film uplifting, but not sickly sweet. The film is also dotted with amusing parts to prevent it all being too depressing, some from the book, and some created by the director.
Overall then, The Color Purple is a film I would recommend you watch, although if you havent read the book you may find it all a bit shocking and sad to begin with. Then again, those who havent read the book will probably get the most out of it, since those who have are likely to be a bit disappointed. Not quite Oscar-worthy (other than perhaps for the performances) but still, its good to see how such a famous director handles such sensitive material, and you cant help but be moved by it all.
The film on its own merits gets 4 stars.
The film in comparison to the book gets only 3.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Willard Pugh, Akosua Busia, Desreta Jackson, Adolph Caesar
Running Time: 154 minutes
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name by Alice Walker, The Color Purple, is not your run of the mill drama, but tells the story of Celie, from a young girl being abused, to her final triumph over adversity.
Please excuse the terminology used in this review, but it is based on the actual vocabulary used in the film.
The colour Purple is set in southern America, during the time when the "coloured" population was heavily discriminated against. Born to a poor coloured farmer, Celie grows up being treated as a second class citizen by all those around her. Remember, she couldn't even drink from the same water fountain as a "white".
Although, I found it hard to believe people could be treated like this, I know from my history lessons that this was actually very realistically portayed.
There are many very strong characters throughout the film, and I believe it is this that makes the film so compelling. All of the characters have a trait that brings out our sympathy, except perhaps Celie's father. I could even empathise with the overbearing Mister.
She may not be an all action hero, but Celie is definitely, in my opinion, a heroine, when you see all that she has to endure and the dignity she retains, you can not help but root for her.
At the heart of this fantastic film is a great story. The film begins in 1909 and Celie is 14 and pregnant. Through the next few scenes we learn that after her Mother's death Celie has taken her place in more ways than one, and has previously had a son. Both her children are taken away from her, and its her greatest desire to see them once more.
The next big upheaval in Celie's life, is when she is married to Mister, an ignorant oaf, who is looking for a slave more than love. The majority of the film focusses on this period of Celie's life and her loneliness and the small triumphs she achieves.
Why The Color Purple?
The film begins with children playing in a field full of purple flowers, and it is revealed that purple is Celie's favourite colour.
The Colour Purple boasts an amazing big name cast including :
Whoopi Goldberg in her first role as Celie. Do not start watching this film expecting Whoopi's usual madcap antics. She plays Celie, with an amazing sensitivity, portraying every aspect of Celie's shy, unhappy character in an amazing manner.
Danny Glover takes on the role of Mister. Again, this is not the sort of role that Danny is well known for, but he is exceptional as the brutish and somewhat sad Mister. He played the part so well, that even though we watch how domineeringly nasty he can be, I still felt some compassion for him.
Oprah Winfrey, yes that's right the chat show queen herself, plays the strong willed Sofia. This in itself was an eye-opener, and Oprah showed herself a very competent actress in this role, sensitively showing Sofia's decline.
There are many other characters within the film, but these are the three that in my opinion were the best played, and most important to the film.
Although this film received 11 Academy Award nominations, it did not win any. This I feel was a great injustice to the film, as it deals with a sensitive era of American history with a great deal of sensitivity and compassion. But maybe it just hit home a little too hard for the judges.
A History Lesson?
You could quite easily, view this film as a lesson in a period of American history that they'd rather the world forgot. However, I prefer to see it as a great story, retold in a dramatic and interesting film.
Film Runtime : 152 minutes
Rating : 15
As well as being shown regularly on television , this film is available to buy on Video for £5.99 from Amazon and on DVD from play.com at £7.99 for the one disc version and £14.99 for the 2 disc special edition.
This is a fantastic film, well worth persisting for the rather long 2.5 hours. The characterisations are fantastic, and I was drawn totally into the story. Although, my action-addicted husband couldn't see what the fuss was about, myself and my teenagers nieces love the film. And yes I do cry at the ending, no matter how many times I watch the film.
Have you ever watched a film that stays with you for years ? A film that, if you were to be asked to name your favourite, it would just pop into your head without thinking ? Well, for me, this is that film. In 1983 Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel entitled ‘Color Purple’ and in 1985 Steven Spielberg turned it into this most amazing film. Over the years I have watched this movie at least a dozen times and it never fails to move me. I will try and give you an outline but I promise you I will not be able to do it the justice I think it deserves. Now would be a good time to get a cup of tea. Background It is the Autumn of 1909 and two girls are playing in a field of purple flowers that stretch far and wide. The sun is shining and the girls are laughing as they sing “You and me will never part “ in time with clapping their hands together. They giggle and run and eventually break free from the purple flowers, the girls are sisters and one is heavily pregnant. The baby is born in the winter of 1909, it is her second child and she names her Olivia. She is 14 years old and she is called Celie. Celie Harris’ two children, Adam and Olivia, were sired by Celie’s father whilst her mother lay sick in her bed. The babies were taken from Celie whilst she slept and her father sold them to a childless Preacher and his wife. Nettie, the prettier of the two sisters is pure but Celie has been soiled, her father’s eyes are starting to follow Nettie. Main Plot Mr Johnson is sitting in church and is looking for a mother for his three children, he quite likes the look of Nettie and approaches Mr Harris saying “I’m gonna’ marry your Nettie” Mr Harris is not keen on this idea and says he can have the other one, she’s ugly and she’s not fresh but “You ain’t gonna’ have Nettie, not now, not never”. 14 year old Celie go
es to live with a complete stranger and starts to bring up his three totally undisciplined children. Celie is played by the new up and coming actress Whoopi Goldberg and Mr Johnson is played by Danny Glover. Both parts are played so well that I can’t imagine any other actors fitting the roles so perfectly. Mr Johnson is not shy about using his fists on his new purchase and does so regularly. The house has been left uncleaned for so long that Celie has to literally scrub every surface to discover what lies beneath. Rats scurry across the kitchen floor and all the while she worries about her sister’s fate in the hands of her father. Nettie comes to visit Celie and begs to stay because her father can’t keep his hands off her. The Mister (Danny Glover) lets her stay but, he has ulterior motives ! Nettie won’t co-operate and gets banished from the house. Mr Johnson drags her out kicking and screaming, Celie is hanging onto her sister, the only person in the world that she loves, for dear life, begging and pleading. To no avail, Nettie leaves but before she does she puts a curse on Albert Johnson “Nothing but death can keep me from her”. “Write….write !!!” Celie shouts. Nettie starts the chant as she runs down the dirt track “You and me will never part..” Every time the mailman arrives Mister collects the mail “anything for me ?” asks Celie “There ain’t never anything for you” he replies. Years go by, still no word from Nettie. Celie brings up the three children and the eldest Harpo, marries a very large girl who is larger still because she’s pregnant ! Sophia certainly wears the trousers in their relationship, much to Harpo’s father’s disgust. Sophia is played by that little known actress Oprah Winfrey. Sophia is very outspoken and would never allow herself to be beaten unlike Celie. When Harpo turns to Celie for advice
on how to subdue his wife she says “Beat her” Harpo takes this advice and comes off the worse for wear ! Sophia, eventually fed up with the ongoing boxing matches, decides to leave Harpo taking the children with her. In town one day she comes across the Mayor and his wife. Miss Mille, being the white caring citizen she is, always makes a fuss of the little black children. “Ooohh, their so clean and their sooo sweeet, do you want to be my maid ?” “Nooo damn !” responds Sophia with more attitude than is proper towards the town dignitary. “What did you say ?” asks the Mayor, this is then chorused by all the citizens within the vicinity. The mob gets rowdy “You fat nigger !” one shouts, they close in “Get my chilluns outta here” Sophia shouts to her friend “Get them out !” moments before she is struck in the head by a revolver butt – the next eight years are spent in jail. There is so much more to this film, it is over two hours long but you feel that it could have gone on a little bit longer without detracting from it’s plot in any way. The film was produced by Quincy Jones and the music was performed by Quincy along with Lionel Ritchie. I first saw this film in 1990 and even today, eleven years later, I still cry at the same parts and am still moved at the sadness of it all. I am going to buy the DVD version which I spotted on Amazon for £12.99 and may even treat myself to the book ( £ 5.99 also on Amazon). If you like movies with a great plot, brilliant acting, sadness, tension and eventual triumph then this movie will not disappoint you. Where did I put those tissues ?
This has to be a film I will always remember,the life of abuse a human being can go through at the hands of so called love ones. Its a story about a girl called Celine(played by Whoopi Goldberg)who suffers years of abuse by her father who repeatedly rapes Her,until Shes pregnant. A very harrowing scene follows when she goes into labour.Her Father waits outside offering no comfort,then removes the baby to give it away.Celine reaches out in desperation for the return of Her baby.Her sister holds Her offering the only love She knows. Celines abuse continues at the hands of Her evil father,until She is married off to a man She doesnt even love.There begins more horrific abuse.... The acting is superb,it brings out all your emotions as you cannot begin to imagine what life is like is a situation like this. A particular favourite scene of mine is,when Celine and Her sister are running around a poppy field,laughing and playing together.They are so happy and so close to each other.The scene is just beautiful,for a few moments their suffering is forgotton. As the film progresses Celines Sister marries and they dont see each other.But Her sister writes letters regularly to Celine,unfortunately these letters only get as far as into the hands of Her evil husband,who hides them. Celine hits rock bottom when She thinks Her sister has forgotton Her. Until one day She finds these letters and a reunion is inevitable. More tears from me at this point!! It really makes you think about the horrific suffering in other peoples lives and thankful that you lead a life far from this. The actors performed well,especially Whoopi I love Her smile,She plays Her part brilliantly. This is an excellant movie,guaranteed to touch the hearts of most people.A must for a good cry!!!
This is a film about a lifetime of abuse and life for blacks in America's deep south. Starring Whoopi Goldberg...who always gives a wonderful performance, whatever she's in and an excellent very overweight Oprah Winfrey. Whoopi Goldberg, abused all her life has her sister and children taken from her, is abused by a husband who flagrantly flaunts his girlfriend. There are moments in the film that make you hold your breath with anger and some very poignent moments that can make you cry. The end of the film just had me in absolute floods of tears and was very fitting after all the horrors that Whoopi Goldbergs character had to put up with.
I'm sure lots of people have read the novel by Alice Walker. It is a fantastic read, if only the film was as interesting! I may be in the majority though, as most people, I know seem to love this film. This is possibly because they have not read the novel though. To me it does not capture the true characters I had imagined and seems to fall short. The film is about Celie. She is raped in the first scene by the man she calls 'Pa' and subsequently, has her 2 new born babies taken away. She thinks they have been killed in the forest. For this reason, she writes to God and later her sister Nettie. Throughout the film, she is also raped by her husband Mr.____ and told she is "ugly, black and a women". This film is deeply thought provoking, as Celie lives in a male dominated society, in which her only love is for Shug. The film raises many female rights issues and has a fantastic storyline. The actors are very good in their parts, but not quite as I had imagined. My advice, is to read the book, if you have time as it is a fantastic read and a mile better than the film version.
This is a superb film and a good adaptation of Alice Walkers book. However, I read the book first and nothing will live up to that so perhaps my view of the film is tainted slightly. It is about a girl called Celie, growing up in the Deep South, who has been raped many times by her father. As she gets older her life does not get any better with her children being taken away from her and being forced into a marriage to a man she does not love at all and who treats her badly. The book is written in the style of letters to God from Celie and as such you feel you get to know her much better than in the film, although a lot of the original writings from the book are added. An excellent, thought provoking film.
Steven Spielberg, proving he's one of the few modern filmmakers who has the visual fluency to be capable of making a great silent film, took a melodramatic, DW Griffith-inspired approach to filming Alice Walker's novel. His tactics made the film controversial, but also a popular hit. You can argue with the appropriateness of Spielberg's decision, but his astonishing facility with images is undeniable--from the exhilarating and eye-popping opening shots of children playing in paradisiacal purple fields to the way he conveys the brutality of a rape by showing hanging leather belts banging against the head of the shaking bed. In a way it's a shame that Whoopi Goldberg, a stage monologist who made her screen debut in this movie, went on to become so famous, because it was, in part, her unfamiliarity that made her understated performance as Celie so effective. (This may be the first and last time that the adjective understated can be applied to Goldberg.) Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including best picture and actress (supporting players Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery were also nominated), it was quite a scandal--and a crushing blow to Spielberg--when The Color Purple won none. --Jim Emerson