Their Eyes Were Watching God (film)

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Their Eyes Were Watching God
Their Eyes Were Watching God (DVD cover).jpg
Directed byDarnell Martin
Produced byMatthew Carlisle
Quincy Jones
Oprah Winfrey
Written byZora Neale Hurston (novel)
Suzan-Lori Parks (teleplay)
Misan Sagay (teleplay)
Bobby Smith, Jr. (teleplay)
StarringHalle Berry
Michael Ealy
Music byTerence Blanchard
Distributed byABC
Harpo Films
Touchstone Television
Release date
  • March 16, 2005 (2005-03-16)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States

Their Eyes Were Watching God is an American Broadcasting Company television film that aired on March 6, 2005. It is based upon Zora Neale Hurston's 1937 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Darnell Martin and produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions (Winfrey served as the host for the broadcast). Its teleplay was by Suzan-Lori Parks, Misan Sagay, and Bobby Smith, Jr. It starred Halle Berry and Michael Ealy, with other prominent actors.



Catering to Winfrey's expected TV audience, the film largely avoided the more controversial themes of race, gender, and power that Hurston explored in her novel. Karen Valby of Entertainment Weekly comments, "While the book chews on meaty questions of race and identity, the movie largely resigns itself to the realm of sudsy romance."[1] New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan said, "the film is less a literary tribute than a visual fix of Harlequin Romance: Black Southern Series— all sensual soft-core scenes and contemporary, accessible language."[2]

Sharon L. Jones, an English professor at Wright State University, agreed that the film was quite different from the novel. She said that the novel emphasizes Janie's life journey with others who are part of her establishing an identity, and she is sometimes overpowered by them. Jones says the film leaves out many important concepts that help convey the central theme. She says that Harpo's production was thought to address a more general idea of love to reach a broad range of audience, believed to be the majority-white females of Winfrey's TV audience.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awarding Body Award Nominee Result
Satellite Awards Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made For Television Ruben Santiago-Hudson nomination
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a TV Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Michael Ealy, Ruben Santiago-Hudson nomination
Outstanding Actress in a TV Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Halle Berry nomination
Outstanding TV Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special nomination
Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made For Television Halle Berry nomination
Emmy Awards Outstanding Hairstyling for a Mini-Series, Movie or a Special Alan D'Angerio, Barbara Lorenz nomination
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini-Series or Movie Halle Berry nomination
DGA Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television Darnell Martin nomination
CDG Awards Outstanding Costume Design for Television Movie/Mini-Series Eduardo Castro nomination
Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television Michael Ealy winner
Best Actress - Television Halle Berry nomination
Best Director - Television Darnell Martin nomination
Best Film - Television nominated
Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted - Television Suzan-Lori Parks, Misan Sagay, Bobby Smith Jr nomination
Best Supporting Actor - Television Ruben Santiago-Hudson nomination
Best Supporting Actress Nicky Micheaux nomination
Black Movie Awards Outstanding Television Movie Kate Forte, Quincy Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Matthew Carlisle nomination
Austin Film Critics Association Breakthrough Artist Award Terrence Howard winner
American Cinema Editors, USA Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Commercial Television Peter C. Frank nomination


  1. ^ Valby, Karen. "Review of film Their Eyes Were Watching God." Entertainment Weekly. November 25, 2005. (accessed March 28, 2012).
  2. ^ Heffernan, Virginia. "A Woman on a Quest, via Hurston and Oprah"], The New York Times. March 4, 2005. [ (accessed April 5, 2012)
  3. ^ Jones, Sharon Lynette (2009). Critical Companion to Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. pp. 218–. ISBN 0816068852. Retrieved Nov 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]