Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Color Purple Book/Movie Review

Rating: 5

I just finished watching the film and this was me.  I can still feel the tears drying on my cheeks.  Damn.  What a movie AND book.
Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Avery, and Oprah Winfrey

I have seen this film several times, but never read the source it came from.  I finished the novel two days ago and was not disappointed.  Alice Walker pulled the characters from her own ancestors and gave them, particularly Celie (based on her grandmother), a happier ending.  This book gives us a look at relationships and the human condition.  Parents and siblings are our first family, and then others come along and join us through marriage and friendships. Unfortunately, immediate family can be destructive and we rely on the grace and love of friends to be our true family.  On the flip side, family bond can be so sweet and wonderful that distance cannot keep us from one another.

I love Celie.  Her story is real and painful, and yet so tender.  All her life she is trying to find someone to love her and it comes and goes (via Shug) with many hardships.  Whoopi truly brought Celie alive in her Hollywood introductory role.  Her mannerisms she gave Celie really brought her character such depth and sympathy.  You really felt her inadequacy in her prison of a life. What really made me adore her was her sense of love that she still had in her heart after years and years of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse.  She was always told she was nothing, and yet she showed she WAS somebody.

The Color Purple is set in the 1900s early south and follows the main characters for about 40 years.  It was a time when the black man had more freedoms but was still under a lot of oppression which they seemed to take out on their women.  I admit, it was nice to see Mr._____ finally get a dose of his own medicine and make a turn around.  I can't help but thing that the struggles of this family (depicting the lives of so many at that time) only made those with goodness in their hearts become mentally and emotionally stronger.

Alice Walker writes her book in a series of letters: those from Celie (to God) and those of her sister, Nettie (to Celie).  She also uses dialect and vocabulary that gives us a more clear understanding of our characters to their time, race, and education.  Between main and secondary characters, we see their growth and final sense of peace with themselves and the world by the time the story ends.  (Well it doesn't really end in my opinion.  The book did, but the story continues on in my head.)

Alice Walker was part of the production team and Menno Meyje wrote the screenplay.  It's one of the few films I have seen that stays incredibly true and close to the actual novel.  Yes, there are a few changes, but nothing that deters from the story or makes it something it is not.  The book was very serious, but the film did provide moments of badly needed comedic relief.  

One of the more serious scenes takes place when Mr.______ (as he is written in the book) is kicking Nettie off his property and she and Celie will not let go of each other.   As noted in the film extras, it was a very difficult scene to film for all three actors. Celie and Nettie were all they had for love and support.   Family being torn apart from one another is one of the most painful things to ever witness or experience.  Spielberg shared that the scene was incredibly emotional for all three characters, but Glover was the most upset.  Spielberg whispered to the actresses to not allow Mr.____to physically separate them.  They don't know what was whispered to Glover, but when you watch the scene, those sweet girls were doing whatever they could to not let go and it is incredibly powerful.  Nettie's "Why?  Why???  WHY?" were not part of the script bur came from her heart.

Oprah's Sophie was strong and sassy!  Oprah was just a news anchor when she got was given the role and she nailed it!  Danny Glover's Mr.__________ was impeccable.  I actually felt a lot of compassion for him considering his meanness came from the oppression he was under.

The entire cast and production team gave us a film classic that should be side by side with it's novel, which was a Pulitzer Prize winner.  If you have not seen it or read it,  please do.  It is worth your while.

I'm sure there is more to write and say, but I'm getting wordy as it is and my brain is fried  When I stumble upon a thought I want to share, I will post in the comments section.  Now to leave you with my favorite scene.  Quincy Jones, your composition just made it that much more emotional.

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