The Color Purple

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Comedy drama

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Time Out says

The adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, about growing up 'poor, female, ugly and black' in the Deep South, by a Middle American movie brat not hitherto noted for his interest in any of the above, could be cynically seen as a blatant (and botched) bid for Oscars. And it's easy - but unfair - to stamp on the Spielberg version of Celie's triumphant pursuit of happiness and self-respect. Example: Walker's clear, lyrical patois has been filmed with, well, purple pomposity, a battering ram of flashy editing and tearful emotion (the brutish husband played by Glover, whom Walker finally allows his own small epiphany, gets especially short shrift as yet another of the big, bad authority figures who stalk Spielberg's world). Nor is it altogether surprising that Spielberg treads delicately round the story's more radical elements, like Celie's lesbian love for free-spirited blues singer Shug (Avery) or the political insights of her sister's African experience. And yet... due in no small measure to a superb cast spearheaded by Whoopi Goldberg, this is a powerful and honourable attempt to wrest an unusual book into the populist Hollywood mainstream.
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Release details

UK release:

1985

Duration:

154 mins

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LiveReviews|2
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Jade

Magnificant. More than a film, it's a vibrant, pulsing, tale of bleakness, imprisonment, brutality and sad ironies, that is somehow moulded together into one of the most uplifting, vivid, heart stopping pieces of magic ever made. It creaks and groans with atmosphere, it writhes with music, love, and joy for life, while recognising all its cruelty. I was shocked by the cowardice of Time Out's review - it undermines it with faint praise whilst not being able to criticise the quality or the strength of feeling. The review refuses to acknowledge the insane splendour of this film. This is a film that looks good enough to eat, and it needed to be - the depths of human cruelty plunged requires some relief, and nature plays her own starring role in achieving this. The fact that it would be impossible to watch the film without crying and laughing is something the reviewer doesn't feel compelled to mention. Yet, when people talk about the Color Purple they have a lot to say and all of it passionate. A cool detached criticism seems odd. At worst, this is fantastic and entertaining ride through a very rocky period in history, with an upstanding cast and a gorgeous backdrop. Fortunately, that doesn't even come close to it's true merit. In response to the reviewer's two trifling criticisms... 1. The lesbianity is shown with a gentleness as if a warm breeze had blown across our screen - as if such a natural thing needs little remark. In fact, the playful and relaxed nature of the encounter between Celie and Shug is far more open minded than the explicit scenes the reviewer clearly felt were missing...and although sex drives behaviour and act, none of the sex scenes are lingered upon, so it is entirely consistent for a same sex scene to be distinctly PG in content and so Adult in its intelligence. 2. The remark that the brutal husband does not get his own epiphany - blatantly untrue, we see him lose everything and, like a coin falling slowly into a slot, he takes action and tries to make amends for his cruelty. It's also worth mentioning that his consistent love for Shug, and his fear of his father combine with comic moments and light relief that make him more than just a cowardly bully. Vibrantly and strongly played by Gower. But this tale isn't about him. It's about Celie. And Miss Celie is triumphant. She is tough, dry, cowering, courageous, shy, silly, wise, fierce - now why don't they make female parts like this anymore? I forgot - she's "poor, black and ugly" - apparently that's never going to be in fashion. Watch The Color Purple as an experience (it's just not small enough to be called a film - it's a wide, wild and tumulturous tale that will make you feel you lived a hundred lifetimes) and wonder why something so extraordinary didn't win a single oscar. Although I'm sure the jewish director and black cast have figured it out by now.

Jade

Magnificant. More than a film, it's a vibrant, pulsing, tale of bleakness, imprisonment, brutality and sad ironies, that is somehow moulded together into one of the most uplifting, vivid, heart stopping pieces of magic ever made. It creaks and groans with atmosphere, it writhes with music, love, and joy for life, while recognising all its cruelty. I was shocked by the cowardice of Time Out's review - it undermines it with faint praise whilst not being able to criticise the quality or the strength of feeling. The review refuses to acknowledge the insane splendour of this film. This is a film that looks good enough to eat, and it needed to be - the depths of human cruelty plunged requires some relief, and nature plays her own starring role in achieving this. The fact that it would be impossible to watch the film without crying and laughing is something the reviewer doesn't feel compelled to mention. Yet, when people talk about the Color Purple they have a lot to say and all of it passionate. A cool detached criticism seems odd. At worst, this is fantastic and entertaining ride through a very rocky period in history, with an upstanding cast and a gorgeous backdrop. Fortunately, that doesn't even come close to it's true merit. In response to the reviewer's two trifling criticisms... 1. The lesbianity is shown with a gentleness as if a warm breeze had blown across our screen - as if such a natural thing needs little remark. In fact, the playful and relaxed nature of the encounter between Celie and Shug is far more open minded than the explicit scenes the reviewer clearly felt were missing...and although sex drives behaviour and act, none of the sex scenes are lingered upon, so it is entirely consistent for a same sex scene to be distinctly PG in content and so Adult in its intelligence. 2. The remark that the brutal husband does not get his own epiphany - blatantly untrue, we see him lose everything and, like a coin falling slowly into a slot, he takes action and tries to make amends for his cruelty. It's also worth mentioning that his consistent love for Shug, and his fear of his father combine with comic moments and light relief that make him more than just a cowardly bully. Vibrantly and strongly played by Gower. But this tale isn't about him. It's about Celie. And Miss Celie is triumphant. She is tough, dry, cowering, courageous, shy, silly, wise, fierce - now why don't they make female parts like this anymore? I forgot - she's "poor, black and ugly" - apparently that's never going to be in fashion. Watch The Color Purple as an experience (it's just not small enough to be called a film - it's a wide, wild and tumulturous tale that will make you feel you lived a hundred lifetimes) and wonder why something so extraordinary didn't win a single oscar. Although I'm sure the jewish director and black cast have figured it out by now.