Starring – Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Rae Dawn Chong, Willard Pugh, Dana Ivey, Adolph Caesar, Akosua Busia
Directed by Steven Spielberg
“I’m poor, black, I might even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here. I’m here.” –Celie (Whoopi Goldberg)
The Color Purple the film and novel profoundly affected my life. I would watch this film and hope that one day I could escape my abusive family (specifically that Joan Crawford Junior) and be free and happy, just as Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) had done by the end of this film (AND GUESS WHAT?! I DID! MY CELIE DAY DID HAPPENED! How? Watch the film to find out how to too! I still have so much work to do, but so did Celie after The End too). This film (and novel, written by Alice Walker) will take you through almost every human emotion possible; sorrow, happiness, joy, laughter, anger, fear, love, hate, and finally, hope and peace.
Celie is a poor, black girl who is basically sold to Mister (Danny Glover) to be his bride after her father rapes her repeatedly, the results producing two children that he takes away from Celie and gives to another family. Celie is beaten physically, verbally, and emotionally by Mister and everyone else in her life. The only person in the world who loves Celie is her younger sister, Nettie (Akosua Busia). Nettie comes to live with Celie and Mister after their father tries to rape her as well. But Mister has eyes for Nettie. When he tries to sexually assault Nettie, she hits him in the groin with her school books. Mister then kicks Nettie out of his house and out of Celie’s life. “NOTHING BUT DEATH CAN KEEP ME FROM HER!” Nettie screams to Mister in an extremely harrowing scene as Mister kicks her off the farm. (And I just sob and sob and sob at this scene every time I watch it and I have seen this movie hundreds of times now.) After Nettie is forced out of Celie’s life, Celie just exists, not even living really, just surviving by eating and breathing. I get that existence all too well, unfortunately.
Years pass and one of Mister’s old flames comes back, Shug (played magnificently by Margaret Avery). At first Shug hates Celie because she is jealous that Mister married her. But slowly, Shug learns to like and then love Celie. In the novel, Celie is a lesbian, and she and Shug end up having an affair that results in Celie leaving Mister and moving in with Shug to be her lover. In the movie, these two characters only share a scene in which they almost chastely/almost lustfully/but still barely there kiss a few times. This was 1985, after all, and the idea of a major motion picture showing two women being in love was still very much a taboo subject. Steven Spielberg, I believe, did a good job for that time period, by giving the audience (those of us who could see the truth of their relationship) enough of a tease so that we could see their “real” relationship. Shug even writes a song about Celie and sings it to her for all the town to hear and so the whole town knows how much she loves Celie. In the novel, Shug eventually leaves Celie for a man (Shug is bisexual). Shug just LOVES herself some love and so just can’t help herself.
In the film and novel, Nettie eventually returns with the help of Shug and even Mister. This scene makes me weep and weep and grab a million tissues every time I see it, and I just saw the film for the millionth time a few days before I wrote this review, and yes, I was weeping once again. Nettie and Celie finally see each other again for the first time in over 30 years. And Celie is even reunited with the two children her father (later we learn he is actually her step father) gave away right after they were each born.
Yeah, I know, I gave away the whole film and the book, but I LOVE The Color Purple so much, I just don’t care.
SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!!!!
Then go read the novel. Or vice versa. The order doesn’t matter, just do it.
Fun Fact 1: Alice Walker, who wrote the novel, has had relationships with both men and women, but she doesn’t define her sexuality.
Fun Fact 2: Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel.
Fun Fact 3: Steven Spielberg practically begged Tina Turner to play the part of Shug. But Tina turned him down saying that she had already lived that life and never wanted to go back to it. It might sound strange that she turned down such an amazing role in such a spectacular movie, but after reading her autobiography, I, Tina, I completely understand why she decided to do Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome instead. The woman deserved to have some fun! Me too! I’m going to have LOTS, and oh boy, LOTS of good ole fun! Remember fun?
NOT So Fun Fact: Another case of “What the fuck Oscars?!!” The Color Purple was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. It didn’t win a single one. Robbed! Robbed! Robbed!
Author’s Note: Review originally published June 26, 2013, but this is my all time favorite movie because it is both perfect, flawless and beautiful, and because this movie, and specifically Celie, saved my life so many times that it isn’t even funny, it is dead serious, because I would be dead today if it wasn’t for this movie and my wife. And so I wanted to re-post this review because this movie is just too important not to get a re-posting from me on MOTR every now and then. Thank you Celie. I wish my life didn’t look so God damned much like your life, but at least you were always there for me to see that I too can say, “…but dear God, I’m here. I’m here.”