The Color Purple - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Color Purple Reviews

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½ February 8, 2016
Good and fairly realistic melodrama.
½ July 25, 2011
An emotional, engaging story about a black woman who has to overcome a lifetime of suppression by the men in her life in order to find happiness.
December 2, 2015
My reaction to "The Color Purple" shows growth, disturbance, unforgiveness, and a lot of emotions involved. It puts me in the state of mind that I would have not survived the things that went on in the 1900's. What caught my attention in the movie for example, was the relationship Whoopi Goldberg (Celie) and Danny Glover (Mister) had. The way that Whoopi Goldberg told the story made me feel as though I was in the movie myself. One of the hardship scene in the movie was when Mister separated Celie and her older sister Nettie just because she did not want to serve him and or be his wife. I would recommend this movie to families and friends.
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 on its golden 30th anniversary 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 that consisted of its predominately African-American cast that also included Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong, Laurence Fishburne,and Adolph Caesar. 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(behind that year's top grossing movie which was "Back To The Future" that was produced by Steven Spielburg). 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 Goldberg 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 "Ghost",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 not to mention we totally lost her when she went from acting into the daytime talk show circuit of garbage. "The Color Purple" upon it's release was released exclusively in larger citles on December 20, 1985 with New York and Charlotte,North Carolina getting the film's world premiere. It went into general release everywhere in February of 1986.
½ October 3, 2015
A more character-driven film than Spielberg has done before, and as such it is a triumph. This is a tragic and ultimately inspiring tale, more concerned with educating than entertaining (and that isn't necessarily a bad thing).
½ September 27, 2015
Sublime performances overcome a tonally uneven effort from Spielberg. The drama is undercut by too frequent (or not frequent enough) comedy moments.
October 29, 2006
August 18, 2015
A beautifully done and very touching film about the struggles of family to find its way back together.
½ August 11, 2015
At times is easy to think this challenging story could have perhaps been suited to a director with a more understated approach, at others it feels like only Spielberg could paint these larger than life emotions so broadly across a canvas and still make sense of it. For all its brutality at the start it's realism falls away as things progress, the last half hour really strains credulity to the point of breaking the immersion, but if it is taken as a presentation of how things should have gone, then the powerful sentiment still wins through.
½ August 5, 2015
One of most mature opus of Spielberg.Touching story of a wild,unsinkable rose;outstanding score courtesy of Quincy Jones
½ May 25, 2015
Spielberg is blessed with an amazing cast of actors to translate Alice Walker's brilliant novel to the screen. Whoopi Goldberg delivers a heart-crushing performance which can't be ignored. Allen Daviau's cinematography adds to the sweeping power of the piece. Sadly, in comparison to the book, the story has been softened a bit too much. This may have made the movie more accessible to the mainstream in 1985, but The Color Purple could have been so much more than it is.
April 30, 2006
Steven Spielberg's first try at drama works and is truly moving.
March 24, 2015
Went into movie weary of Spieberg's shift and came out applauding it.
March 7, 2015
Exceptionally acted and photographed film, based on Alice Walker book, about the life of a young African American woman living in the early 1900s. Great moments of beauty, and spectacle, are plenty, but film is seriously weakened by its overlength and direction flaws. Still a fascinating journey that made Goldberg an international superstar, and left an impact on the art of cinema. Allen Daviau's cinematography is outstanding.
½ September 7, 2007
Unashamedly emotional, it either totally grabs you or leaves you cold.
February 6, 2015
To sugar coated for me it seems a bit false a bit Walt Disneyish, the film is saved by the outstanding acting.
January 18, 2015
Buena cinematografia , Spielberg no es alguien que me emocione, pero esta vez lo hizo , valen las actuaciones especialmente Whoopie
December 25, 2014
Steven Spielberg perfectly balances the changes in tone from dark and disturbed to light hearted comedy, which helps make The Color Purple an entertaining and interesting film filled with fine performances, strong direction and a well written script.
December 16, 2014
Resuming my Spielberg marathon, The Color Purple based on the novel by Alice Walker is a movie far better than is usually thought. Sad to have found out that it got 11 Oscar nominations, but lost in every category.
Whoopi Goldberg (playing Celie) is a debut performance that is nothing short of amazing. I'm sure it must have been a difficult job - she rarely speaks, dreams or interacts. It is only when the movie ends that you realize the story is not of Celie's suffering but of her victory. Every scene shines with the love of the people who made it.
November 2, 2014
Characters in Spielberg movies can operate in the middle of the moral spectrum, can exhibit nuance, and can hold true to their immutable natures while still going on a journey of change-see, for example, Chief Brody in "Jaws"-but it is more common for them to be characterized in extremes, as most of them are in "The Color Purple." Shining heroes and devilish villains are not out of place in, say, Indiana Jones movies which trade in concepts of good and evil in a world where magic is real and the stakes include the destruction of the world, but in Spielberg's historical films his black and white view of life can feel stifling, arbitrary, and preachy. In "The Color Purple" and in "Schindler's List" no less than in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the story unfolds through a series of good and evil actions committed by characters who are either right or wrong, respectively. To be fair, Oskar Schindler is a flawed hero in the latter movie, and in this film Celie Harris Johnson (Whoopie Goldberg) has one line that suggests complication. This moment occurs early in the movie, when she suggests, perhaps for lack of any other example of male behavior, that a man beat his wife in order to make her more docile. But for the most part, Celie and the other characters in "The Color Purple" have at most two settings, and when they alternate between them it is with a rapidity that is more in service of plot and message than of truth. Spielberg is not obliged to make truthful movies, of course, but in his historical movies he seems to want to have it both ways: he seems to want to say something honest and meaningful, but through characters who are too idealized and abstractified to connect with.

Here, the film opens with an idyllic pastoral scene: young girls playing in a field of flowers. When they step out of the head-high stalks, we see that one of the girls, Celie, is pregnant. Clearly, something is amiss. The next two scenes reveal Celie's painful childbirth, the cruel theft of the infant by her father, and the statement that her father is also the father of her child. The moral lines are very stark, the villain and victim very clear. If only real life had the perfect clarity that it has in Spielberg's versions of it.

At times, of course, it does. There have been, and still are, women like Celie (Whoopie Goldberg), abused and despised and trapped by their deranged fathers or husbands. There have been, and still are, women like Sofia (Oprah Winfrey), unjustly imprisoned or mistreated by their employers because of the color of their skin. But do people bear their circumstances with the saintly, childlike, often bemused patience of Celie, or alternate between Sofia's polar extremes of unbridled confidence and utterly defeated resignation? Some perhaps do, but for most people, life is lived in the middle. There are monsters in the world, like Danny Glover's tyrannical Albert, but do monsters like that ever change in time for a Spielberg-sanctioned happy ending? These characters are simple when they should be rich, and mercurial when they should be static.

That said, if Spielberg's prime objective is to convey a strong, positive message through raw, uplifting emotion, he succeeds. Many have focused on the film's famous march to a church, a big musical number that feels good and creates a neat resolution for a juke joint singer named Shug (Margaret Avery). Yet this is actually a side plot, and not strictly necessary to the core ideas about strong female relationships. In fact, it works against those ideas: Shug is the film's most complicated and interesting on-screen character (an equally intriguing storyline set in Africa exists only on the margins), but in the church she is railroaded into what audiences in 1985 found a crowd-pleasing conformity that, to me, just feels like conformity. The idea that really drives "The Color Purple," and that remains as daring and intense and uncompromising and subversive now as it was then, is that bonds between women have the ability to weather the destructive power that certain men employ to maintain their position of privilege in society. Celie's different but equally strong connections with Sofia, Shug, and a sister who remade herself in Africa are mutually empowering and healing, and the worthiness of this message makes the film worth seeing and talking about in spite of its many missteps.
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