The Color Purple, directed by Blitz Bazawule, is the historical drama/musical of Celie, a woman growing up in the early 20th century in the United States and trying to reconnect with her sister after being separated in childhood by her abusive father. The film is based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker, the 1985 movie adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg, and the 2005 Broadway musical by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.
The Color Purple Movie Review: Script Analysis
The script of The Color Purple attempts to merge the tragic novel with the flashiness of the Broadway musical of the same title. It maintains the story of Celie Harris-Johnson being abused and forced into a bitter marriage at an early age while staging it with big musical numbers. The good news is that the darker elements are treated as such and not given the song-and-dance treatment. Scenes of Celie having her baby taken away and being forced away from her sister by Mister are movingly heartbreaking.
The film slowly finds its core theme about a family holding out hope of making the next generation better. Characters like Celie and Nettie are engrossing in how they refuse to accept the life of being young mothers wed into a life of submission. Their struggle makes their stand against the abuse of Mister and attending the funeral of their father uniquely cathartic. There’s also a great warmth that washes over the picture with the grand reunion and tearful closing song. It’s impressive that the film retains much of the same story for being a sensationalized musical.
The Color Purple Movie Review: Star Performance
There’s a wealth of great talent in The Color Purple that shines bright. Fantasia Barrino takes center stage as Celie, and she perfectly conveys a complex character for her displaced situation. Every song she belts out is packed with emotion and her bitterness towards Mister can be felt as her progress continues towards finding her sister.
Taraji P. Henson eats up her role as a singer who knows how to dominate a room. Colman Domingo, as the egotistical Mister, is brilliant to watch as a bitter man who goes from being an abusive husband to a humiliated man trying to rebuild himself. A major highlight of the film is Danielle Brooks for her great energy as the determined and outgoing Sofia. Be sure to keep an eye out early on for a cameo by Whoopi Goldberg, paying tribute to her leading role in the first film adaptation of The Color Purple.
hat’s Good: The musical numbers are exciting for their energy and emotion. The cast assembled for this film is exceptional for fitting the roles of both a period drama and a Broadway-style musical. Despite the lengthy running time, the music is able to keep up the pace, and the drama unfolds with a heartfelt sincerity.
What’s Bad: The most concerning aspect of the film is how it stages its darker nature of r*pe, teenage pregnancy, s*xual abuse, and racism with a coat of upbeat musical numbers to break up the somberness. The musical numbers also elongate scenes longer, despite the film being less lengthy than the 1985 film.
Loo Break: When the small town sings about the coming of Shug Avery. It’s a number meant to amp up how big of a celebrity she is, but there’s nothing all that revealing about her in the song, aside from her being a party animal and intoxicating singer.
Watch or Not?: There’s questionable material in The Color Purple in terms of whether or not it could work for a musical, but the musical numbers and strong acting hold this film together well enough to be worth a watch.
Available On: Theatrical release
Runtime: 140 Minutes