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The Color Purple (1985)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  7 February 1986 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 57,093 users  
Reviews: 191 user | 64 critic

A black Southern woman (Whoopi Goldberg) struggles to find her identity after suffering years of abuse from her father and others over 40 years.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 11 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harpo Johnson (as Willard Pugh)
Leonard Jackson ...
John Patton Jr. ...
Carl Anderson ...


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... Written by Colin Tinto <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize Winning Story. See more »




PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 February 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Moon Song  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)


$94,175,854 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Alice Walker (author of the novel) attended the rushes at the end of filming each day, yet she was horrified with the final cut of the film, especially what she referred to as the "Oklahoma"-type opening scene. However, at the premiere, when she watched the movie with an enthusiastic audience, she changed her mind. She now says she likes the film very much, but thinks of it as being very different from her book. See more »


The shaving cream on Mister's face changes between shots as Celie is sharpening the razor and Shug is seen running to the house. See more »


Miss Millie: You kids are so clean. You wanna come work for me, be my maid?
Sofia: Hell no.
See more »


Referenced in Everybody Hates Chris: Everybody Hates My Man (2008) See more »


Body and Soul
Music by Johnny Green (as John Green)
Lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton
Performed by Coleman Hawkins and his Orchestra
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Spielberg's 1st "Serious" Film Is Beautiful and Powerful...
28 March 1999 | by (Philadelphia, PA) – See all my reviews

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

97 of 123 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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