The Color Purple

December 18th, 1985


The Color Purple

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Still of Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover in The Color PurpleStill of Oprah Winfrey in The Color PurpleStill of Whoopi Goldberg in The Color PurpleStill of Adolph Caesar in The Color PurpleStill of Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover in The Color PurpleStill of Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery in The Color Purple

The life and trials of a young African American woman.

Release Year: 1985

Rating: 7.6/10 (33,735 voted)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey

This film follows the life of Celie, a young black girl growing up in the early 1900's. The first time we see Celie, she is 14 - and pregnant - by her father. We stay with her for the next 30 years of her tough life...

Writers: Alice Walker, Menno Meyjes

Danny Glover - Albert
Whoopi Goldberg - Celie Johnson
Margaret Avery - Shug Avery
Oprah Winfrey - Sofia
Willard E. Pugh - Harpo Johnson (as Willard Pugh)
Akosua Busia - Nettie Harris
Desreta Jackson - Young Celie Harris
Adolph Caesar - Old Mister Johnson
Rae Dawn Chong - Squeak
Dana Ivey - Miss Millie
Leonard Jackson - Pa Harris
Bennet Guillory - Grady
John Patton Jr. - Preacher
Carl Anderson - Reverend Samuel
Susan Beaubian - Corrine

Taglines: Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize Winning Story.

Release Date: 18 December 1985

Filming Locations: Anson County, North Carolina, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $1,710,333 (USA) (22 December 1985) (192 Screens)

Gross: $98,467,863 (USA) (1987)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Sheryl Lee Ralph tested for the role of Shug Avery.

Continuity: In the confrontation between Squeak and Sofia, Shug Avery can be clearly seen behind Squeak (wearing a red sequin dress), but changes position, and even disappears in one shot, then reappears.

Harpo: Who this, Pa? Who this?
Albert: The woman that shoulda been yo' mammy.

User Review

Spielberg's 1st "Serious" Film Is Beautiful and Powerful...

Rating: 10/10

A film that can make you shed tears of sadness and tears of joy would be considered quite a step in the career of a common filmmaker. The fact is, Steven Spielberg, probably our greatest story-teller, has been doing this in various movie formats for years. THE COLOR PURPLE, at the time, was considered risky, especially after action classics like JAWS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. In hindsight, this film should have come as no surprise, for Spielberg had made us cry tears of joy and sadness in E.T. Critics called COLOR PURPLE his entrance into intellectual fare. It is quite an entrance. No special effects, no swashbuckling, just brilliant story-telling based on a literary classic by Alice Walker. One surprise is how Spielberg could present such a moving film about African-Americans in the deep south. Slavery is gone, but in the south depicted here, it seems as though blacks are using other blacks as slaves.

Spielberg is always put down for sentimentalizing his pictures or adding an element of childishness to please the audience. This is really the first of overlooked films from his career that you cannot make these observations. It is the first in a line of films people either didn't see or wouldn't see because there are no aliens. EMPIRE OF THE SUN, ALWAYS, SCHINDLER'S LIST, etc.. His awesome talent is obvious with this specific picture because A) he uses mostly untrained, first-time actors, B) he tackles a subject most felt was unadaptable to the screen, and C) it is pure drama with no strings pulled where characters grow and change over the passage of roughly 30 years. It is almost epic-like in look and scope and the fact that it did not garner a single Academy Award from 11 nominations is a travesty and an insult.

Whoopi Goldberg is fabulous as the tortured Celie, an unattractive woman given away by her incestuous father to an abusive Danny Glover, who she only knows as "Mister". The film follows a path of occasional beatings and mental torture she goes through while with "Mister". The PG-13 rated film is pretty open to the sexual issues raised by the Walker novel. This is not "The Burning Bed" in Georgia by any means. There is no blatant revenge taken as might be expected. It happens gracefully. Goldberg perfectly plays a human being, someone in need of love and someone who deserves it. The films' most poignant and heartbreaking moment comes when Goldberg and her sister, Nettie (played by Akosua Busia) are separated, maybe forever. (Possibly foreshadowing Holocaust separation of child and parent?) You may have to check for a pulse if you are not moved by this sequence.

The color purple stands for the beauty of the fields and flowers surrounding these poor people. There really is something to live for, but love triumphs over all. Spielberg bashers take note: the guy can make an unforgettable classic without any cute aliens.

RATING: 10 of 10


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