The Color Purple (film)
|The Color Purple|
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
|Directed by||Steven Spielberg|
|Screenplay by||Menno Meyjes|
|Based on||The Color Purple|
by Alice Walker
|Music by||Quincy Jones|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$142 million|
The Color Purple is a 1985 American coming-of-age period drama film directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by Menno Meyjes, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel of the same name by Alice Walker. It was Spielberg's eighth film as a director, and was a change from the summer blockbusters for which he had become famous. The film was also the first feature-length film directed by Spielberg for which John Williams did not compose the music. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Desreta Jackson, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey (in her film debut), Rae Dawn Chong, Willard Pugh, and Adolph Caesar in one of his final film roles.
Filmed in Anson and Union counties in North Carolina, the film tells the story of a young African American girl named Celie Harris and shows the problems African American women faced during the early 20th century, including domestic violence, incest, pedophilia, poverty, racism, and sexism. Celie is transformed as she finds her self-worth through the help of two strong female companions.
The film was a box office success, raising $142 million from a budget of $15 million. The film received positive reviews from critics, receiving praise for its acting, direction, screenplay, score, and production merits; but it was also criticized by some critics for being "over-sentimental" and "stereotypical." The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, without winning any; it also received four Golden Globe Award nominations, with Whoopi Goldberg winning Best Actress in a Drama. Steven Spielberg didn't receive an Academy Award nomination for his directing, but did receive a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and a Golden Globe nomination. The film was later included in Roger Ebert's book series The Great Movies.
Celie Harris is an African-American teenager in early 20th century rural Georgia who had two children by her abusive stepfather, both of whom have been taken from her. She is given away as a wife to widower Albert Johnson, who already has three children, and is soon abused. Celie's sister Nettie, whom she has vowed to protect, escapes their abusive stepfather and seeks shelter at the Johnson estate. Albert immediately takes a romantic interest in Nettie and lets her stay, where she and Celie promise to write each other should they ever be separated. Nettie teaches Celie to read and the two are happy together, until Albert sexually assaults Nettie while on her way to school. She successfully fights him off, and is forcibly removed from the property.
Years later, Celie is now a meek adult who has avoided standing up to Johnson's continued abuse. His eldest son Harpo marries his girlfriend Sofia, a strong-willed, boisterous character, and Celie is shocked to find her running a matriarchal household. On Albert's advice, Harpo attempts to overpower and strike Sofia in an attempt to better control her. After he fails, he asks Celie what to do. Confronted with her own inability to stand up to abuse, she also advises Harpo to start beating Sofia. Sofia forcefully retaliates, and confronts Celie about what she told Harpo, threatening to kill him if he beats her again and telling Celie to do likewise to Albert. Sofia eventually leaves Harpo, taking her children with her.
Johnson and Harpo bring home Shug Avery, a showgirl and the former's long-time mistress, as she suffers from an unknown illness. Celie, who has slowly developed a fondness for Shug through a photograph sent to Johnson, does not object to Shug's presence, and is in awe of Shug's strong-will and ability to stand up to Albert. She goes above and beyond in nursing Shug back to health, and Shug in turn takes a liking to her, writing and performing a song about her at Harpo's newly-opened bar. Obsessed with Shug, Celie follows her around and learns she is in ill standing with the reverend, who is angry about Shug's wild lifestyle. Celie decides to follow Shug to Memphis, but gets caught by Albert while she's frantically packing her things.
Sofia is imprisoned and separated from her children after being instigated into a violent confrontation that results in a riot. Years pass, and she is released from prison only to be immediately ordered by the judge to become a maid to the Mayor's wife, Ms. Millie. Having not seen her children in eight years, Sofia is allotted Christmas to be with her family, and Ms. Millie tries to drive her, but panics and turns around after encountering a group of Sofia's friends who are only trying to help her.
Shug returns to the Johnson household with her new husband Grady, expecting to receive a recording contract. Shug gives Celie a letter from Nettie, who tells her that she's working for a couple that has adopted Celie's children. Celie and Shug realize that Johnson has been hiding Nettie's letters from Celie; while he and Grady are out drinking, the two search the house and find a hidden compartment under the floorboards filled with dozens and dozens of letters. Engrossed in reading Nettie's letters, Celie does not hear Albert's calls to shave him and he beats her. Celie considers killing Albert with the straight-razor, but Shug intervenes and stops her. At a family gathering including the Johnsons, the Averys, and Sofia's family, Celie finally speaks up against Albert, to Shug and Sofia's delight, who breaks her silence and finds her old fighting spirit, which prompts Harpo's new wife to stand up for herself as well. Johnson continues to berate Celie, who then threatens and curses him. Shug and Grady drive away, taking Celie with them.
Years later, Celie owns and operates a tailor shop, Johnson is old and alone, and Harpo has made amends with Sofia; the two now running the bar together. Celie's stepfather passes away, and she finally learns from Nettie's letters that he wasn't their biological father, and that when their mother passed, the Harris property was legally inherited by Celie and Nettie. After not having performed since her illness, Shug starts singing at Harpo's bar again. Johnson receives a letter from Nettie addressed to Celie, takes money from his secret stash and helps Nettie, her husband, and Celie's children return to the US, where they finally reunite while Johnson watches from a distance.
- Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Harris Johnson
- Desreta Jackson as young Celie
- Danny Glover as Albert Johnson ("Mister")
- Oprah Winfrey as Sofia Johnson
- Margaret Avery as Shug Avery
- Táta Vega as Shug's singing voice
- Akosua Busia as Nettie Harris
- Adolph Caesar as Old Mister (Albert's Father)
- Willard Pugh as Harpo Johnson
- Rae Dawn Chong as Squeak
- Laurence Fishburne as Swain
- Carl Anderson as Reverend Samuel
- Grand Bush as Randy
- Dana Ivey as Miss Millie
- Bennet Guillory as Grady
- James Tillis as Henry "Buster" Broadnax
- Leonard Jackson as Alphonso "Pa" Harris
- Gayle King (uncredited) as Churchgoer
The Color Purple was a success at the box office, staying in U.S. theaters for 21 weeks, and grossing over $142 million worldwide. In terms of box office income, it ranked as the #1 rated PG-13 film released in 1985, and #4 overall.
Problems playing this file? See media help.
The film received positive reviews from critics, receiving praise for its acting, direction, screenplay, score, and production merits, but was criticized by some for being "over-sentimental" and "stereotypical". Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 85% based on reviews from 27 critics, with an average score of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus states: "A sentimental tale that reveals great emotional truths in American history." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film four stars, calling it "the year's best film." He also praised Whoopi Goldberg, calling her role "one of the most amazing debut performances in movie history" and predicting she would win the Academy Award for Best Actress. (She was nominated but did not win.) Ebert wrote of The Color Purple:
The world of Celie and the others is created so forcibly in this movie that their corner of the South becomes one of those movie places—like Oz, like Tara, like Casablanca—that lay claim to their own geography in our imaginations. The affirmation at the end of the film is so joyous that this is one of the few movies in a long time that inspires tears of happiness, and earns them.
Ebert's long-time television collaborator, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune, praised the film as "triumphantly emotional and brave", calling it Spielberg's "successful attempt to enlarge his reputation as a director of youthful entertainments." Siskel wrote that The Color Purple was "a plea for respect for black women." Although acknowledging that the film was a period drama, he praised its "... incredibly strong stand against the way black men treat black women. Cruel is too kind a word to describe their behavior. The principal black men in The Color Purple use their women—both wives and daughters—as sexual chattel."
Mr. Spielberg has looked on the sunny side of Miss Walker's novel, fashioning a grand, multi-hanky entertainment that is as pretty and lavish as the book is plain. If the book is set in the harsh, impoverished atmosphere of rural Georgia, the movie unfolds in a cozy, comfortable, flower-filled wonderland. ... Some parts of it are rapturous and stirring, others hugely improbable, and the film moves unpredictably from one mode to another. From another director, this might be fatally confusing, but Mr. Spielberg's showmanship is still with him. Although the combination of his sensibilities and Miss Walker's amounts to a colossal mismatch, Mr. Spielberg's Color Purple manages to have momentum, warmth and staying power all the same.
Variety found the film over-sentimental, writing, "there are some great scenes and great performances in The Color Purple, but it is not a great film. Steven Spielberg's turn at 'serious' film-making is marred in more than one place by overblown production that threatens to drown in its own emotions."
In addition, some critics alleged that the movie stereotyped black people in general and black men in particular, pointing to the fact that Spielberg, a Jew, had directed a predominantly African American story.
Filmmaker Oliver Stone defended The Color Purple as "an excellent movie, and it was an attempt to deal with an issue that had been overlooked, and it wouldn't have been done if it hadn't been Spielberg. And it's not like everyone says, that he ruined the book. That's horseshit. Nobody was going to do the book. He made the book live again."
In 2004, Ebert included The Color Purple in his list of "Great Movies". He stated that "I can see its flaws more easily than when I named it the best film of 1985, but I can also understand why it moved me so deeply, and why the greatness of some films depends not on their perfection or logic, but on their heart."
The Color Purple was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Goldberg and Best Supporting Actress for both Avery and Winfrey. It failed to win any of them, tying the record set by 1977's The Turning Point for the most Oscar nominations without a single win. The film was also nominated for four Golden Globe Awards at the 43rd Golden Globe Awards, with Whoopi Goldberg winning Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.
Spielberg received his first Directors Guild of America Award at the 38th awards ceremony for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures. He became the first director to win the award without even being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.
- List of American films of 1985
- The Color Purple (musical), the musical theatre version of the novel.
- "THE COLOR PURPLE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. April 10, 1986. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- STEWART, ROBERT W. (1986-03-07). "Adolph Caesar : Fatal Heart Attack Fells Actor on Set". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
- "Adolph Caesar Dead of a Heart Attack at Age 52". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
- "The Color Purple filming locations". The 80s Movie Rewind. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- Corliss, Richard (Dec 23, 1985). "Cinema: The Three Faces of Steve the Color Purple". Time. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- "The Color Purple". Box Office Mojo. Accessed Dec. 9, 2011.
- "Festival de Cannes: The". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
- Matthews, Jack (Dec 25, 1985). "A Strong Start for 'Color Purple' in Christmas Box Office Race". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- "Alice Walker". Desert Island Discs. 19 May 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- "The Color Purple (1985)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
- "The Color Purple Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
- Ebert, Roger (Dec 20, 1985). "The Color Purple". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Siskel, Gene (Dec 20, 1985). "Color Purple: Powerful, Daring, Sweetly Uplifting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Maslin, Janet (Dec 18, 1985). "Film: 'The Color Purple,' from Steven Spielberg". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- "The Color Purple". Variety. Dec 31, 1984. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Clegg II, Legrand H.(Chairman, Coalition Against Black Exploitation, Compton) (Feb 16, 1986). "Bad Black Roles In 'Purple'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-30.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Friendly, David T. (Mar 27, 1986). "Academy Hits Racism Accusation". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Matthews, Jack (Jan 31, 1986). "3 'Color Purple' Actresses Talk About Its Impact". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Cooper, Marc. Oliver Stone interview from Playboy Magazine (1988), in Stone, Oliver and Silet, Charles L.P., editors. Oliver Stone—Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (2006), p. 87.
- Ebert, Roger (28 March 2015). "The Color Purple Movie Review (1985)". rogerebert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- "'Out of Africa' Ties as Oscar Nominees: 11 Citations; Spielberg Not Named". The Los Angeles Times. Feb 5, 1986. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- "Winners & Nominees 1986 Golden Globes". goldenglobes.com. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Color Purple (film)|