In continuation with my black history/civil rights theme for this month, I give you my review and outlook of The Color Purple. This was a story (adapted from a novel written by Alice Walker) that mainly focused on Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) and her abusive husband Albert, or 'Mister' (Danny Glover). It was set in the early 20th century in the South. The movie has been criticized and praised in numerous ways, due to the way the movie depicted African-Americans during a time in American history. The Color Purple is also known to be Steven Spielberg's first 'serious' directorial turn, as well as being one of two movies (the other being The Turning Point) to be nominated 11 Oscars, but not winning any.
It is said by several viewers and critics that is a 'disturbing, honest and truthful look at the way things were for African-Americans'. Little was said when I was in school about what African-Americans faced during the post-Civil War to the pre-Civil Rights era (1880-1950), but apparently this movie gives quite a perspective on what African-American women faced. Celie, as mentioned above, was abused by her husband, and before that she had 2 children from whom she believed was her father. It pretty much gave me the feeling that African-American women were looked down upon during those times. Most of them were in poverty (as well as the men), but even if they were to marry rich (as did Celie), life wouldn't be so grand. Another character is Sofia (played by Oprah Winfrey before she was famous for her talk show) who gets abused but at the same time refuses to tolerate it.
Besides the whole observation on how times were, of course there's the story. The movie is nearly 3 hours long as it goes into detail about not just how times were but themes like homosexuality, hope and inspiration. Albert's old flame, the famous singer Shug Avery lives with them for a bit as she befriends Celie and helps to raise her self-confidence. Over a long course of time, Celie deals with physical and verbal abuse from Mister. Sadly, his son Harpo becomes the same person he is, while opening a 'juke joint'.
I first watched this movie several years ago as part of a Film Analysis class, as we had to answer several questions about the movie. Not just about the story, but about camera angles and certain small views in the movie, like the mailbox on a windy day. What can we learn about that? Needless to say, there is some suspensefulness in the movie. Some love the country views in the film, including several portraits of the old South. They say it adds 'character' to it.
I usually say this movie is depressing but inspirational, and I still do. But people can learn from it. Let's face it, life is better for most people than they were 100 years ago. For African-American women, times have definitely changed as many have been famous and inspirational (such as Oprah in real life). Speaking of Oprah, I do praise her great performance in this movie. Keep in mind, I don't like her as a talk-show personality or media mogul, since I do view that image of her fake. She's very good on the big screen though. Whoopi Goldberg, while a famous comedian in real life, definitely took a chance as someone the opposite. She was a petrified person who was trapped in a hellish home. Danny Glover, too, took a chance as in most of his movie roles he is the 'good guy' or 'nice guy'. Like Whoopi, he plays the total direct opposite of what he usually does.
I say devote three hours to this, as you will learn a lot about life, history and a great uplifting story.
My rating: 8 out of 10