The Color Purple (1985) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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...

  • A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The Color Purple follows the life of Celie Johnson (played by Whoppi Goldberg) as she struggles through life in the early 1900s. The film begins with Celie about 14 years old, giving birth to her second child, who was fathered by her father whom later we find out is her step father in his death. Her stepfather takes the second child away from her and tells her never to tell anyone about it. Time passes and a local farmer, "Mister" (a.k.a Albert Johnson), comes by to marry Celie's younger, prettier sister, Nettie. Her father refuses to let Nettie marry and gives the man Celie instead. Mister verbally physically and sexually abuses Celie, then one day, Nettie comes by asking to stay with them, because their stepfather was treating her the same way he treated Celie. Mister tried to lure Nettie to have sex and Nettie fought him off, out of anger he sends her away, leaving Celie more distraught than ever. Nettie promises to write unless death keeps her from it, but Celie never receives a letter (we later discover Mister Hid all the letters). Meanwhile, Mister's lover, Shug Avery, comes to visit and befriends Celie, helping her to understand that she is more than Mister's servant. The movie ends in Celie leaving Mister with the threat that everything he touches will fall apart until he does right by her. Mister finds compassion and goes to the INS to help Celie's sister Nettie prove that she is a US citizen and return from Africa where she has been living with Celie's two children who had been given to a missionary and his wife. Celie is reunited with Nettie and her two children in a heartfelt ending to an extraordinary film.

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