The Color Purple Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 3, 2007
Alice Walker's novel comes to the screen under the direction of Steven Spielburg the director that brought you some of the biggest blockbuster hits of the era including "Jaws", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind","Raiders of the Lost Ark",and more. This was indeed one of the top ten films of 1985 and to understand why this movie moved audiences so deeply and why the greatness of this masterpiece was not by perfection or logic but by heart. Despite what critics and some audiences who may have inconsistencies or confusions or improbabilities,but there is one perfect thing at it's center,and that is the character of Celie,played with riveting and emotional fire by Whoopi Goldberg in her first ever theatrical role. Because of her electrifying performance,"The Color Purple" became a phenomenon upon it's release and a runaway boxoffice hit becoming one of the top ten highest grossing films of 1985. The movie was nominated for an impressive 13 Oscar Nominations including Best Picture,Best Director(Steven Spielburg),Best Actor(Danny Glover),Best Actress(Whoopi Goldberg),Best Supporting Actress Nominations for Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery,along with Best Supporting Actor(Adolph Caesar),and Best Original Musical Score for a Motion Picture(Quincy Jones)which was the first time in any Spielburg produced film that composer John Williams did not compose a film score for a Spielburg movie. Out of the amazing 13 Oscar nominations that it received it did not win a single Oscar(it lost the Best Picture Oscar to Sydney Pollack's Out Of Africa) but it was among number eight of the top ten highest grossing films of 1985. It also marked at the time of it's release the only movie that featured a diverse cast of talent including some that were newcomers like Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goklberg who turned out astounding performances. "The Color Purple" focuses on the character of Celie,a woman cruelly treated by the world,a shy,frightened little creature whose life is consists mostly of eluding the men who want to rape and beat her. Her eventual flowering provides one of the most joyous experiences that expands through the years 1909 to 1949 where she is treated like a non-human by a brutal farmer she calls Mister(Danny Glover) who beats her,uses her as a servant and a low-life and convinces her that she is ugly. But here is where the film blossoms and Celie finally gets revenge on Mister too(the scene where Celie is shaving Mister with a straight sharp razor where she is about inches from cutting his throat),along with other characters that blend into this movie. The movie itself takes place in a scene that resembles more of "Green Pastures" or "The Grapes of Wrath"(filming of this movie was done in North Carolina within Anson County and Union County within the towns of Wadesboro, Lilesville, Sneadsboro, Marshville,and Morven to give it a more rural setting). "The Color Purple" was Whoopi Goldberg's first major performance and it earned her the Oscar nomination for Best Actress,and it remains her best because she was allowed to draw from her inner truth and not required to play a sappy or comic role. She has had other true moments including a scene of personal revelation in "Fatal Beauty",and another Oscar nominated performance in "Ghost" along with some astounding work portraying civil right icon Rosa Parks in 1990's "The Long Walk Home",and playing the wife of Medgar Evers in 1996's "The Ghosts of Mississippi". These movies and a few others show that Whoopi was a serious actress when she did "The Color Purple",and we really lost her when she started playing second hand characters such as nuns("Sister Act" sequels),and playing off the radar "Star Trek" characters.
Super Reviewer
½ May 3, 2007
Disturbing and uncomfortable, yet also unmistakably beautiful. There are many contradicting qualities here that are in steady conflict with each other. On one side of the coin you have truly ravishing camera work, with settings so rich in light and color, that it looks like something out of a dream. On the other, however, there are occurences of such despicable nature, that your stomach will be left in a turmoil. Not only because of how horrific they are, but also due to the infantile fashion in which they are presented. Unspeakable crimes like incest and rape, are carelessly interweaved with lighthearted music and congrous humor. An unsavory mix that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And why is the majority of all male characters such rotten and sadistic monsters? It only serves to place the film in disharmony, while shattering any credibility it could have had. What saves it from disaster though, is all the star-making performances coming from the ladies in the cast. Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey (here almost inrecognizable), are so terrific in their roles, that it re-directs all thoughts to what's positive about the film. Like mentioned, it's very beautiful, and Spielberg's directing is outstanding as ever. Especially towards the end where it's hard to keep the tears away. A fine drama, all things considered. Albeit sadly somewhat diminished by a less-than-plausible story.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2011
Smart, poignant, honest, subtle, and thoroughly moving. The story reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption, only we are following a southern black woman in the first 4 decades of the 20th century and her prison consists of sexually, physically, and verbally abusive men, complete isolation from the only person who cared about her, and greatest of all, her heart-breaking view of her self. But there is redemption, and it will run deep into your soul. Great cast. Oprah and Whoopi really do transcend themselves, proving they can act with the best of them.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2009
For me, it's a feel-good movie that's good but doesn't get any better.

Quoting a few lines from the song towards the ending:
"God is trying to tell you something.
Maybe God is trying to tell you something right now....."

Maybe He's trying to tell you to end it right now. It's al-frigging-ready enough. Amen.
Super Reviewer
March 20, 2011
A beautifully made movie that makes me smile every time I see it. This movie gives me peace whenever i see this, the fields, the flowers, the skies, ad everything are so well made and I love Spielberg for truly capturing it. The acting is truly believing and I think some Oscars were stolen from them. The plot is amazing and atrue tale of bravery and love and friendship and family. I was thinking it would be another Tyler Perry movie, but this is one of the most ovie dramas ever made.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2007
Pretty good.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2009
One of the Master Piece from Steven Spielberg Movie Factory.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2009
Throughout his career Steven Spielberg has proved that when it comes to popcorn thrills and light-hearted entertainment, there is almost no-one better on the planet. But when he turns his hand to more serious subject matter, he has a habit of pulling his punches for the sake of a sentimental cop-out, betraying an audience?s trust so that he can make us cry. That is the central problem with The Colour Purple.

Spielberg does not seem like a natural choice for this feminist tale of oppression and humiliation in 20th century Georgia. This is especially the case when you look at his previous film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Sure, Indiana Jones is the upmarket equivalent of a B-movie matinee idol, and hence women?s rights are not high up on the agenda. But at least both the other Indy films had the sense and decency to pair him with a strong-willed female character, rather than a damsel-in-distress.

To give Spielberg credit, the first half of The Colour Purple is very, very good. Danny Glover gives a powerful performance as ?Mister? (Albert), reminding you that beneath the Lethal Weapon exterior lies a talented and underrated leading man. Whoopi Goldberg, who was Oscar-nominated for her performance, is a great match for him. Every single act of oppression that Mister heaps on Celie is completely believable, and as Celie retreats further inwards your heart goes out to her. You genuinely sympathise with the character rather than simply feeling as if you should: there is great depth to Goldberg?s performance, and in the shaving scenes you could cut the tension with? well, a razor.

The art direction and cinematography are also great, really taking the audience into the heart of black culture. From the tumble-down state of Mister?s house to the juke joint on the riverbank, the sets seem to have been lifted straight out of the 1920s and 1930s. The bleak mood created by these harsh and simple surroundings further enhance the sense of despair at the heart of the story. These are people with not much to hope for, few prospects and little to cling to save their families and strict moral principles, however distorted and corrupted both things may be. Much like the opening of Saving Private Ryan, the audience feel like they are in the characters? personal hell. It?s a strange sensation, one which is simultaneously frightening and captivating.

But sadly, like so many of Spielberg?s films, it isn?t long before The Colour Purple collapses into a soggy pit of sentimentality, never to emerge. The second that Celie discovers the backlog of letters from her long-lost sister, the film falls apart and never recovers.

This may be a problem with the novel: it is never made clear why Mister kept the letters, rather than simply burning them and thereby permanently destroying Celie?s hope. As far as the film is concerned, this is a deus ex machina, a get-out-of-jail-free card for the director. The discovery of the letters confirms and restores Celie?s sense of hope, and allows her to stand up to her oppressors with seemingly minimal effort in the transition. This easy road to recovery cheapens the message of the film, removing the threat of retaliation and making the whole thing seem rather frivolous. There?s nothing wrong with the idea that hope overcomes all despair, but the film hasn?t earned the right to wave away the problem, at least not so flippantly.

All of which begs the question: if the survival of Nettie is assured, why does the film need to drag out for another hour-and-a-half? Spielberg himself doesn?t seem to know the answer, as long sections of the second half are crammed full of inconsequential rubbish. Why do we need the goofy comedy sequence in which Sophia?s ditzy mistress is learning to drive? Why do we need the scene of the juke band entering the church, which seems to have escaped from 1941? And why, oh why, do we need the sequence of Sophia and Harpo trying on pants?!

The only explanation for this is that Spielberg emphasises them to illustrate Celie?s gradual return to happiness. But as it is, these sequences only emphasise the lack of backbone in the second half of the film. Where the opening act or two was bleak and portentous, and almost as good as The Shawshank Redemption, the latter acts are shallow and inconsequential. Even when Celie and Nettie are united and the tears start rolling, you?re cross with yourself for crying because you know the film hasn?t done enough to make the tears seem genuine.

The Colour Purple stands alongside Schindler?s List and Saving Private Ryan as one of Spielberg?s admirable failures. Each of these films have great opening acts which feel genuine, are inhabited by truthful characters and look fantastic. But each of these falls down on their inability to develop a dark storyline without resorting to over-the-top villains or unjustified special effects. The Colour Purple is not an awful film; certainly it gets away with what it does for a whole lot longer than Schindler or Ryan. It?s just a real shame that Spielberg couldn?t follow through on the promise of the first half and deliver a film about hope which wasn?t cheatingly sentimental. That is the great success of Shawshank, to which The Colour Purple cannot hold a candle.
Super Reviewer
½ September 25, 2009
Spielberg's first real drama has stood the test of time. Moving and impressive.
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2009
an incredibly moving, no holds barred, film. whoopi goldberg is brilliant in this amazing drama.
Super Reviewer
½ March 27, 2009
Oh this was just unbearable, Sappy & corny & overall a shallow portrayal
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2007
This was Steven Spielberg's first "serious" dramatic film, and I must say, it doesn't disappoint. I'm aware that the film tones down some of the more controversial and edgy content that was present in Alice Walker's source material (and does so quite a bit), but that is not a problem. People criticized him for directing this (the African American community), feeling he wasn't the right director for the job, but I say he was. Alice Walker herself even suggested that he do it. Some might say that with Spielberg's toning down of the material doesn't make it quite as much of a mature film as it could/should have been, but again, not a problem. He delivered in that area in spades later on, and besides, this was his first "serious" film-give him a break. The performances here are brilliant and flawless. No one screws up here. It's sad that this was Whioopi Goldberg's first major film, and that she has yet to return to serious fare like this, instead opted for comedy, and eventually, seemingly fading off into obscurity. Oprah annoys me now a days, but in this film, she delivers a performance so strong and great that I'm willing to forget that she bugs me. Sad, happy, funny, touching, compelling, inspiring, hopeful, uplifting, cruel, painful, wonderful, moving, and beautiful. These are all words that perfectly describe The Color Purple. I'm mad that this film was nominated for 11 Oscars and won none, but that, like the subject matter in the film, is (like it or not) an unfortunate fact of life. This was one of the best films of the 1980's, and everyone needs to see it. They will be a better person for doing so.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2007
Not your average Steven Spielberg film, this powerful masterpiece captures a horific tale of control displayed in a number of different ways.

This film remains a timeless classic due to the era that it's set in.

This should be on the list of anyone who calls themself a film fanatic.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2008
There are few people who can ruin a film like Spielberg, this is one of the exceptions to that rule. A heartbreaking story, beautifully shot with some truly amazing performances by everyone envolved. I'll admit that Whoppi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey had me leary going into this film, but both really proved themselves as exceptional actresses.
Super Reviewer
January 10, 2008
A great movie. Whoopi gives an amazing performance, with a rough story catching on to you and never letting go.
Super Reviewer
September 4, 2007
Fantastic film! It is so rare to find black historical films or epics, let alone one that moves you so deeply. There are amazing performances and the film will make you laugh and cry.
Super Reviewer
July 25, 2007
The greatest movie I ever saw that DIDN'T win an Oscar! It certainly deserved it, but the Academy had something against Steven Spielberg!
Super Reviewer
½ July 22, 2007
Disturbing movie about a woman who suffered abuse by men who should have loved and protected her.
Super Reviewer
June 3, 2007
Director Steven Spielberg makes this black culture of 1900 to 1930s really superb and emotional story of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), down-trodden by cruel husband (Danny Glover) and forcibly separated from her sister, who eventually finds freedom. Whoopi Goldberg does a wonderful performance in her debut drama film. At the final scene that makes feel happy and cry - I wouldn't tell you while you'll watch it.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2011
The Color Purple is a beautiful and strong film that is driven by great performances and a incredible script. Whoopi Goldberg's first acting credit is phenomenal and watching her just puts a smile on our face, and the iconic dinner scene where she finally yells as Danny Glover is possibly the finest acting in her career to this day. Danny Glover is also great, he is cruel and really plays an evil role very well. The story has so many conflicts and yet we still see the film as beautiful, but with so many conflicts why do we see it as beautiful? It's because the main character is a beautiful woman on the inside and never loses hope, and her relationship with her sister is a truly beautiful character study. I see beauty in this film and the characters, and the actors fill the characters perfectly and make them their own. I loved the setting and the costumes, it really all had an innocent feel to it. The Color Purple is one of Steven Spielberg's most personal films as he shows cruelty and racism at its worst, and its just another reminder that Spielberg is one of cinema's greatest visionary's.
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