Color Purple, The (1985)


I know what 'The Color Purple' is a reference to and I'm not sayin!
I know what 'The Color Purple' is a reference to and I'm not sayin!

Genre: Drama

Starring: Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost  Corrina, Corrina), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon Bat*21) 

Directed By: Steven Spielberg (Jaws Jurassic Park)

Overview: At the turn of the century, in deep-South Georgia, Celie Johnson's father enters her into an oppressive marriage with an abusive husband.

The Color Purple is the story of a black woman oppressed at the turn of the 20th century, directed by Steven Spielberg. Unlike Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusadethe movies he directed before and after The Color Purple, there is no treasure and high adventure in this tale, though there is a lot of old musty 80s cheese-dust and some Nazi-grade hatred.

 Danny Glover, again, having trouble with his partner.
Danny Glover, again, having trouble with his partner.

Celie Johnson is a plain girl, pregnant with her father's second child. Her one and only friend is her beautiful younger sister, Nettie. Nettie draws the romantic attentions of Albert, who asks her father for her hand in marriage. The request is promptly refused, but Celie is offered up as a bride instead. Though the majority of the film revolves around the abusive relationship between Albert and his most-definitely-not-first-choice Celie, there are plenty of sub-plots: Nettie and her flight from her incestuous father, Albert's son Harpo, all too submissive to his overbearing wife Sofia, and the friendship Celie has with Shug Avery, a singer Albert has a long-standing affair with. In short, The Color Purple is exactly what one could expect from a Spielberg-directed period Drama that comes from a Pulitzer prize-winning novel.

You know what? Let me just cut the crap and vent my rant right now. Steven Spielberg, as a rule, don't impress me. Yes of course his skill is obvious, I'm not an idiot. He knows how to make a movie, whether an epic like Shindler's List or an Oscar winner like Jaws. I need to add that I was absolutely astounded with Munich. I don't hate his work, but he's blatantly manipulative with his audience. Indiana Jones doesn't merely face just one terrifying snake but is subjected to a ginormous nest of them. Shindler's 'girl in the red coat' virtually screams "Pay attention to THIS JEW in particular!" Yes, the skill he has at cinematic production is fantastic, and sure, I've seen most of his movies. I can't go swimming without getting wet, I can't be into film without giving Steven his propers, but I'm not goin' to cream just because I see him name stapled to something. That's mainly because he's the king of over-exposition, which I know is a redundancy-hyphenate but that's just his style, get it? The Color Purple, too, as expected was full of it. Scenes with appropriately subtle human interactions were consistently ruined by overzealous direction and, I'm sure, filled with directorial decisions based on Spielberg asking his production board, 'What would a frontal-lobe trauma victim think of this?' Ack. I digress. Back to the tongue-in-cheek praise.

Oprah Winfrey plays the overbearing wife of Harpo, which is Oprah spelled backward and that kind of synchronicity just freaks me right out. This is Oprah before she was 'Oprah' and she plays perfectly the role of a nagging wife directed into the dirt. Whoopi Goldberg, well she's just a winner. She's a perfect casting choice, right next to the ogre played by Danny Glover, and Margaret Avery as the sultry singer who helps to empower Celie.

As 1985 Dramas go, it's dated, dusty even. It suffers greatly from looking like a high-priced after-school special with a wonderful and glorious moral lesson that deserves the most saccharine of happy endings. If you squint just right and compartmentalize this into a series of vignettes, it's an entertaining story of an extended family and their trials in early 20th century deep South, but be ready to touch upon the naive side of the dramatic spectrum.

Whoopie. Yes. A handsome woman. Comely even.
Whoopie. Yes. A handsome woman. Comely even.

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 8 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 6

Overall Rating: 74% (Colour Me 'Einh')

Not that I've seen Promise: The stupidly long title based on a book with a different name and here's the author's name in the title, but will all the incest and pain, I feel like that'll be the modern day equivalent of The Color Purple. And lookit that, it's on the list. As for this one, another for the pile.

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I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this one now. That and the stupidly long title...etc. Holy dog meat, but that's a good line and I'm going to steal it someday, although I will give you credit.

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