The Color Purple, the classic 80s movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, and Margaret Avery was a landmark film that premiered in 1985. Directed by Stephen Spielberg with a musical score by Quincy Jones, it immediately captured the hearts and minds of black America.
The Color Purplewas based on the book by Alice Walker and as described in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), www.imdb.com, it chronicled the life of Celie, young African-American girl growing up in Georgia in the early 1900’s. The movie follows her experiences as a young girl, played by Desreta Jackson, who is raped by her father with whom she fathers two children. After the children are taken away from her, she is given unwillingly in marriage to the abusive Mister, played by Danny Glover.
Celie’s only comfort is her sister, Nettie, played by Akosua Busia, who teachers her to read before she runs away to escape the advances of Mister, who actually wanted the more attractive Nettie as his wife instead of Celie. As Celie grows into womanhood, the adult Celie, played by Whoopi Goldberg, has to endure the abuse and intimidation as she raises Mister’s children from a previous marriage. Celie is befriended by the headstrong Sofia (Oprah Winfrey), who marries Harpo (Willard Pugh), her stepson.
Celie’s transformation from meek and submissive doesn’t begin to occur until the arrival of Shug Avery (Margaret Avery), a jazz singer that is a past love of Mister. Shug arrives wet, sick, and drunk, and when she sees Celie, she exclaims one of the movies most oft-quoted lines – “you sho is ugly.” As Mister allows her to stay with them, Celie helps to nurse her back to health. Shug begins to help Celie stand up for herself and not endure Mister’s abusive ways and comments from his sharp-tongued father played by Adolph Caesar. Their friendship evolves into something more intimate and although the movie doesn’t dwell on it as much, according to the book, they have a lesbian affair. As the movie progresses, it highlights some of the events that occurred in south Georgia during the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s such as racism, family life, and black culture in a rural setting.
By the end of The Color Purple, Celie had made a transformation with the help of Shug and Sofia. Celie also helped Sofia and Shug to deal with the issues that they were facing with their families. Celie also was reunited with her sister and children and learned more about the circumstances of their birth. Even Mister had changed somewhat by movie’s end when he saw that Celie was willing to stand up for herself.
The reason the movie,The Color Purple resonated with the African-American community was that it was one of the few movies during the 80’s that portrayed black culture and themes in such an epic proportion. The performances by Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, and Margaret Avery really made the movie a standout. Even the cameo appearances of Adolph Caesar were memorable. Other characters in the movie added to the fabric of the movie’s theme and time period.
When The Color Purple began filming in the mid-80’s, there was some controversy about Steven Spielberg’s role as director and the concern that a white director couldn’t adequately capture the essence of the book. Yet, the movie received 11 Academy Award nominations but did not win any Oscars. It was thought that this was due to Hollywood’s snubbing of Spielberg. Most felt that the movie as well as Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Margaret Avery deserved to win Oscars. Despite all of this, The Color Purple has become a key part of black culture and is one of the most quoted movies by blacks. Lines such as “You told Harpo to beat me,” “I’s married now! I’s married now!”, “I loves Harpo, God knows I do. But I’ll kill him dead ‘fo I let him beat me”, and “he just do his business, get off, go to sleep,” are quotes that you are apt to hear when blacks discuss The Color Purple, especially groups of black women.
Another great aspect of the 80’s movie, The Color Purple, was the music. The musical score and the music presented in the church and jook joint scenes have become popular tunes in black culture. The songs “Miss Celie Blues” and “Maybe God Is Trying To Tell You Somethin'” are two of the most recognized songs from The Color Purple. Quincy Jones did an excellent job with the soundtrack and it captured the music of its times beautifully.
So, if you want to enjoy a classic 80’s movie that presents a great and moving story then you should be sure to view the movie, The Color Purple. You will not be disappointed and will find yourself experiencing a range of emotions.
The following links are places where you can purchase The Color Purple.
Sources: www.imdb.com; http://en.wikipedia.org/