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Spielberg's 1st "Serious" Film Is Beautiful and Powerful...
Donald J. Lamb28 March 1999
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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Simply beautiful
krhayes-126 March 2002
Simply beautiful really is the only way to describe such a wondrous film, one which warms the heart, nourishes the soul, and brings a tear to the eye. This statement is neither hyperbolic nor exaggerated, one of many reasons I suggest you see this film.

The film opens in 1909 when Celie (Whoopi Goldberg in her feature film debut) as a young girl, as well as a victim of incest, impregnated by her father. Unattractive and unloved, separated from her beloved sister and children, Celie has no other option than to be wedded to an abusive, impoverished, and philandering husband named Albert (Danny Glover), a man who treats her no better than a slave. However, Celie's life forever changes when Albert returns home in accompaniment with his mistress Shug (Margaret Avery), a beautiful Blues singer.

In spite of the seemingly hopeless situation the film's plot provides Celie with, the Color Purple is not a tale of her despair, but rather her triumph, one which is immensely inspiring. Stellar in every aspect this film is, including Stephen Spielberg's highly credible direction, the acting, especially of the four most prominent stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey (both quite impressive in their debuts), Danny Glover, and Margaret Avery, the plot, etc. As one of my most revered novels and films, I definitely recommend the Color Purple.

Grade: A+
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huge achievement from Spielberg
didi-514 July 2004
The film version of Alice Walker's hugely emotive and influential 1983 novel (written largely as letters from the central character Celie to God) was a massive Oscar success, and rightly so.

In the role of the abused and awakened Celie, Whoopi Goldberg gave her best screen performance by miles. Not far behind her was Oprah Winfrey as Sofia, the fiery woman tamed by fate. Others in the cast fleshed out the characters Walker had introduced so clearly on the page - Danny Glover as Albert, Celie's abusive husband; Margaret Avery as Shug, a force of change for the good; Willard Pugh and Rae Dawn Chong as Harpo and Squeak; Susan Beaubian as Corrine, the preacher's wife; and the much-missed Carl Anderson (otherwise best known as Judas in the 1973 film of Jesus Christ Superstar) as preacher Samuel.

Beautifully paced and sensitively written, 'The Color Purple' does justice to its source while opening out the story to involve viewers of a feature-length drama.
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Remarkably moving story from the maestro
King_Opossum18 April 2000
This is a truly wonderful film from the guru of directing, Mr Steven Spielberg. This great director has suffered much criticism throughout his career. He was slammed by a lot of the press for 'never really growing up' and it took SCHINDLER'S LIST to quiten these critics. However almost ten years before his remarkable account of the Holocaust Spielberg directed this gem.

It is the moving tale of a young black girl born into a male-dominated world, and tells the story of her gradual loss of identity followed by her defiance in reclaiming the life she lost. This was Whoopi Goldberg's remarkable screen debut that assured her of major stardom, and it is not hard to see why. Her fear towards her husband is frighteningly real, as is her silent rebellious side that ventures outwards in the last section of the film. Danny Glover paints a horrific image of a cruel husband, and still manages to give us a valid reason why he acts the way he does, before a moving conclusion to his character's development. The part of Sofia is also expertly played by Oprah Winfrey, especially during the Christmas reunion scene when the viewer can't help but share her pain through to joy. A special treat is an appearance by Laurence Fishburne (then Larry) in a small role.

It is cinema such as this that proves Steven Spielberg's genius. You will often forget that it is him you are watching (not least by the lack of another genius, Mr John Williams), but it only adds to this director's credit that he is so versatile. If anyone passed over this film as a possible blip in Spielberg's career (as I shamefully did!) watch it now! You will not be disappointed.
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A Masterpiece!
Brianh0401-26 October 2004
OK when I was young, I wathced this film with my family and I thought that it was so boring. Then when I got older, I understood this film. It really is a powerful film. This film will bring tears to your eyes literally. The Color Purple is an incredible story about a woman named Celie who grows up living at the mistreatment of a man named "Mister". Whoppi Goldberg's performance is amazing. She should have won that Oscar. The rest of the cast is amazing. I cannot say enough about this movie. It really is a piece of African American History. This film is not just a "movie" it is a piece of beauty. This film will be cherished forever and ever. If you do not like this film, then you need a wake up call.
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Commenting on the 20th Anniversary of this film.
raysond13 May 2003
In 2005,this will be the 20th Anniversary re-released of one of the most unforgettable motion pictures ever devised for the screen. However,this movie is worth seeing since it comes from one of the most distinguished directors in Hollywood......The man who brought us the greatest films ever made..."Jaws","Close Encounters","Raiders of the Lost Ark","E.T.", "Jurassic Park","Schindler's List","Hook","Poltergeist","A.I.-Artficial Intelligence","Minority Report",and so many more.

But this movie,"The Color Purple" was one of the most powerful and meaningful films ever made and to this day it stands out as a classic example of great cimema at its finest. Based on the novel by Alice Walker(who wrote the screenplay with collaborator Menno Meyjes),and directed by Steven Spielburg.

I saw this film at a premiere they had in 1985,and to this day it moves me in such a way that I had never felt,and it is moved me to tears every time I see this masterpiece,20 years later. This film showcased a lot of brilliant talent,since it had an all-African American cast which starred Danny Glover,Whoopi Goldberg,Margaret Avery,Oprah Winfrey,Adolph Caesar, Laurence Fishburne,Rae Dawn Chong,Akosua Busia,Desreta Jackson, Willard Pugh,Leonard Jackson,Carl Anderson,and a lot more.

The film is worth seeing! Highly recommended! Grand performances all around! Anything that has to be directed by Steven Spielburg is worth seeing. Great drama at its best! It also goes to show how unfairly African-Americans were really treated back then,not just by their white counterparts,but by their own race as a whole,and this movie shows that how really cruel that is. It was one of the top ten grossing boxoffice movies of 1985,and was nominated for an impressive 12 Academy Awards including Best Picture,Best Director,and Best Actress(which Whoopi Goldberg should have won!)not to mention musical score from composer Quincy Jones. See this in the widescreen version on video and DVD!
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"A powerful insight into the life of a mistreated black woman in the Deep South"
Rocco Campanaro4 January 2013
This stunning and enthralling portrayal, directed by the marvelous Steven Spielberg, is a true gem for reminding the world of the hardships of the ancestors of America's black peoples. Celie, an uneducated black woman is mistreated by her father, her "Mister", her step-children and almost anyone she is forced to endure – aside from sister Nettie of course whose companionship, I believe, reiterates an important message: to love each other no matter what.

The brief injections of comedic satire in the picture enable Goldberg, in her debut, to show the world what she really is – a comic. A Golden Globe Award-winning and Oscar-nominated performance allows Goldberg to profess the destitute situation of the protagonist. One feels this was Goldberg's time to shine and really did thoroughly deserve that golden statuette from the Academy in comparison to her actual Oscar-winning supporting performance in 1990's Ghost. Nonetheless, the lack of real acclaim for this picture doesn't take away its drawing and moving storyline to see if, for once, Celie can really be happy.

I didn't really recognize much of the supporting cast of the movie, expect from Oprah Winfrey. Now, I was not expecting much from Winfrey's performance as time and time again you get the occasional 'pop' and 'TV' stars who try and make the 'transition' into film. However, I was pleasantly surprised of Winfrey's portrayal of a distraught and let's say 'difficult' housewife Sofia. Although her character, I felt, did in a sense perpetuate the stereotype of the "big angry black woman" which I believe the film was trying to move away from. All in all, Winfrey garnered both an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination.

One of the most beautiful pictures I have seen in years, and, not a single Oscar win, that I'll never know.
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A White Supremacist's Wet Dream
tieman6425 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Spielberg loves the smell of sentiment in the morning. But sentiment at the expense of narrative honesty? Nobody should love that." - Lucius Shepard

Set in the Deep South during the early 1900s, "The Color Purple" opens with Celie and Nettie, two African American sisters. They're playing in a field of purple flowers, an idyllic haven which is promptly shattered by the appearance of their stepfather. This motif – innocence interrupted by men – permeates the entire film.

Director Steven Spielberg then launches into a series of short sequences. Celie is revealed to have been twice impregnated by her stepfather, gives birth in a dirty barn, has her newborn child taken away and is forced to marry local widow Albert Johnson, a violent oaf who repeatedly rapes her, forces her to cook, clean and look after his children.

All these horrific scenes are given little screen time, and are surrounded by moments of pixie-dust cinematography, a meddlesome symphonic score, incongruous comedy and overly exuberant camera work. The cumulative effect is like the merging of a Disney cartoon and a rape movie, a jarring aesthetic which caused Stanley Kubrick to remark that "The Color Purple" made him so nauseated that he had to turn it off after ten minutes. Ten minutes? He lasted a long time.

The film is often said to deal which "racism", "sexism" and "black culture", but this isn't true. Alice Walker, the author of the novel upon which "Purple" is based, is an in-the-closet lesbian who attempted to write a quasi-feminist tale of female liberation, self-discovery and which paints men as violent brutes who stymie women. For Walker, women must bond together in a kind of matriarchal utopia, black sisterhood and female independence celebrated.

Spielberg's film, however, re-frames Walker's story through the lens of comforting American mythologies. This is a film in which the salvific power of Christianity overcomes the supposed "natural" cruelty of men. A film in which Albert is a bumbling fool who constantly finds himself in ridiculous situations. A film in which all the characters are derived from racist minstrel shows, the cast comprised of lecherous men (always beaming with devilish smiles and toothy grins), stereotypical fat mammies, jazz bands and gospel choirs.

This is a film in which blacks are naturally childlike, readily and happily accepting their social conditions. A film in which blacks are over-sexed, carnal sensualists dominated by violent passions. A film in which poverty and class issues are entirely invisible (Albert lives in a huge house) and in which black men are completely inept. This is not the Old South, this is the Old South as derived from "Gone With The Wind", MGM Muscals, "Song of the South", Warner Cartoons, "Halleluha!" and banned Disney movies. In other words, it's the South as seen by a child raised on 50s TV. It's all so cartoonish, so racist in the way it reduces these human beings to one dimensional ethnic stereotypes, that black novelist Ishmael Reed famously likened it to a Nazi conspiracy.

Of course, in typical Spielberg fashion, the film ends with family bonds being healed. Walker's novel, meanwhile, was resolutely anti Christian. Walker's women think "God is a white man for white folk and hates women", and even used the Bible to mocking prove that "Jesus was black" and that white churches are a "conspiracy of control". Believing that traditional notions of Christianity operate to suppress women and blacks, they then turn atheist, ditch their minister fathers, and then, upon renouncing patriarchy, begin to trace a movement away from Christianity and traditional, Western family units and toward an African, tribal form of spiritualism and/or community (paganism, lesbianism etc are just some of the means by which Walker's characters symbolically reject all white conventions). Spielberg reverses all this. His women reconcile with their fathers, the film focuses on Christians and Christian churches, and all hints of a spiritual alternative outside of patriarchy are erased.

Because Spielberg is uninterested in the wider black community, and in any socio-historical context, the film eventually turns into both a hate letter to black men, and a bizarre caricature of black life. Elsewhere Spielberg's camera busily fights for attention (Celie's kitchen contraptions belong in a cartoon or "Home Alone" movie), every emotion is over played, sequences are loaded with extraneous visual pizazz, racist caricatures, emphatic musical cues and inappropriate musical numbers. Couple this with Quincy Jones' ridiculously "white" music, and you have one of the strangest films in cinema history: a feminist tract filmed by a daddy-loving white Jew in the style of Disney and Griffith and scored by a black man trying to emulate John Williams.

Problematic too is the lack of white characters. Note: the film's men aren't portrayed as being rough to each other, nor do they dominate women because they are brutalised by a racist society which emasculates. No, they are cruel by nature. And the women, whether quietly suffering like Celie or rebellious and tough like her sister, persevere and survive only because the men are too stupid to destroy them. A better film would not have focused solely on the oppression of women as it occurs among the oppressed, rather, it would have shown that it is societal abuse which has led to spousal abuse, that enslaved black women are forced to perform the very same tasks as their male counterparts (whilst still fulfilling traditional female roles) and that African American domestic violence occurs largely because of socio-economic factors.

And so there's a hidden ideology at work here. Late in the film one character tells another that since he didn't respect his wife, she wound up getting severely beaten and imprisoned by whites. The implication is that blacks need to return to their African roots to restore their own dignity and that persecution is implicitly their fault; be good in your own minority community and you won't run afoul of the dominant white culture.

3/10 – Despicable.
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Forgotten Spielberg Masterpiece
tfrizzell2 December 2000
Alice Walker's epic novel is put on the big-screen by director Steven Spielberg and the results are excellent. The film deals with the maturity and independence of a mistreated black woman (Whoopi Goldberg in an Oscar-nominated role) from the years 1909 to 1947. The audience gets to experience all of her triumphs and tragedies through the film's running time. A very strong cast of supporting players make the film memorable as well. Danny Glover, Adolph Caesar, Rae Dawn Chong, Margaret Avery, and Oprah Winfrey (the last two Oscar-nominated) all shine with the great screenplay and Spielberg's subtle direction. Somewhat forgotten on Spielberg's list of credits, but still one of his very best films. 5 stars out of 5.
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This is a movie!
EFRA10 July 1999
This film captured my heart from the very beginning, when hearing Quincy Jones' first notes or seeing the wonderful color of purple of the flowers in the meadows. This is truly a film to cry and die for...! The whole cast gives the best performance in a film I've seen in years and Spielberg has really outdone himself! Whoppi Goldberg, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey(oh lord!), Danny Glover, and the others, all give us their best and you can feel it - almost touch it! Goldberg IS Celie, she gives her that insecurity and feeling of inferiority that is needed for the character, and we grow with her, we grow strong together with her, throughout the movie, and we triumph with her. Margaret Avery is wonderful as Shug Avery, even when she's at her most arrogant, and shows us that "sinners", indeed, "have souls too". The always sympathetic, charming Danny Glover makes a marvellous job at making people hate him and the magnificent music of(I'd say sir)Quincy Jones adds even more beauty to this splendid film! The photography, the music, the director and the music makes this beautiful, soulful movie into an experience of life. You don't want to miss it! "Sista'...remember my name..."
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Vintage Spielberg In Both The Good & Bad
ccthemovieman-127 January 2007
As with many Steven Spielberg films, this is a beautiful-looking movie, scene-after-scene almost looking like paintings. To me, that was the main attraction of the movie because the story - although powerful - to me, wasn't as appealing as the rich visuals. It's also one of those films almost guaranteed to bring a tear or two to ones eyes at the end.

This is much more involving story if you are a woman or black person, because you can relate more to the characters in the film. As with typical Hollywood, political correctness rules: most of the men (white or black) are bad while the women (mostly black) are all good. If you are a male watching the movie, this bias in the story can be very annoying.

Individually, I remember first watching this (I've seen it a couple of times) and being surprised what a good actress Oprah Winfrey was, and how appealing was Whoopi Goldberg's character "Celie." Goldberg became a star after this film (also for her comedy appearances on TV) but I always thought this role was, by far, her best or, at the least, her most appealing.

Rae Dawn Chong never looked prettier and Margaret Avery played a real charmer. Danny Glover was effectively nasty. You wanted to punch his lights out!

Overall, expect for what I mentioned above, this was good storytelling and certainly an involving, emotional story.
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Can you say, "syrup"?
Plenum27 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
You may consider a couple of facts in the discussion to be spoilers.

I'm sorry, but Spielberg didn't deserve to win any Oscar for this piece, and I think the Academy was right in that vote. (Other Oscars for best actor nominations and such... that I don't know about. But it would be hard to justify, given what they were told to do and what you see in the final product.) The way Spielberg directs this is so contrived, so meddlesome. While watching this movie a distinction made during a Film as Art course I have taken was screaming at me: "Sentiment is honest emotion honestly rendered. Sentimentality is sugary and unreal, a false view of life." This is over-the-top sentimentality. When in real life to two people ever begin to read out loud in synchronicity, as Celie and Shug Avery do when sitting on the bed going over the letters from Nettie they have found? There are examples of this type of faux behavior throughout the film: all the men crowding around Miss Millie's car and then jumping in unison like a flock of birds taking off when she goes to drive away; Harpo falling through the roofs of various buildings he's working on (a cheap slapstick gag); the whole troop of revelers heading from the Jook Joint en masse to the chapel, as if magically entranced by the choir's singing... on and on. Nothing rings true. I even wondered if Harpo's name was chosen purposefully because it's his wife Sophia's real name, "Oprah," backwards. Spielberg isn't above such "cuteness."

It's not that Spielberg is incapable of honestly rendered action and emotion. Schindler's List was amazing, deeply touching for me, and I greatly admire Saving Private Ryan too for its realism, even if the story is a bit contrived.
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Too careful and slick overall, but undeniably moving...
moonspinner552 October 2005
Steven Spielberg's too-bright, overlong, slickly-designed adaptation of Alice Walker's book about a repressed black woman in the old South living at the mercy of her brutish husband, mourning her separation from her beloved sister, and having a flirtatious friendship with a sexy female singer who passes through town. Spielberg guides the viewer through the crowded script quickly and with ease, and the introductions to the characters are jazzy and direct; but, whereas the director is terrifically at home with his cast, he doesn't seem to know how to stage this story. It's mounted like "Gone With the Wind", with a sweeping grandeur that treats the material with cartoonish reverence. Results are both moving and sticky, with finely-wrought sequences quickly followed by banal whimsy and heartache. Whoopi Goldberg is terrific in the lead, and some of the dialogue has a haunting, evocative feel, but we're never aware of this as anything but a movie, staged and mechanically set-up to wring tears. **1/2 from ****
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Well done Mr. Spielberg!
Steven Spielberg, proving he's one of the few modern filmmakers who has the visual fluency to be capable of making a great silent film, took a melodramatic, D.W. Griffith-inspired approach to filming Alice Walker's novel. His tactics made the film controversial, but also a popular hit. You can argue with the appropriateness of Spielberg's decision, but his astonishing facility with images is undeniable--from the exhilarating and eye-popping opening shots of children playing in paradisaical purple fields to the way he conveys the brutality of a rape by showing hanging leather belts banging against the head of the shaking bed. In a way it's a shame that Whoopi Goldberg, a stage monologist who made her screen debut in this movie, went on to become so famous, because it was, in part, her unfamiliarity that made her understated performance as Celie so effective. (This may be the first and last time that the adjective understated can be applied to Goldberg.) Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including best picture and actress (supporting players Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery were also nominated), it was quite a scandal--and a crushing blow to Spielberg--when it won none.
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butterfinger8 November 2004
Steven Spielberg is, ironically, the most unfairly underrated man in Hollywood. There are so many directors that are content to make blatantly unoriginal works but Spielberg is the most original and ethical crowd-pleaser in America. And yet he is considered one of the men who ruined cinema. People complain that his Jaws was so successful that it encouraged producers to make hackwork movies that will undoubtedly make millions (bringing Hollywood cinema to where it is today). First of all, George Lucas's Star Wars is more responsible for this. Secondly, who are we to blame Spielberg for the deeds of the producers/filmmakers who were (superficially) influenced by him? What annoys me even more than this is that so few people realize that his films keep getting better as his career goes on (with the exception of Schindler's List, Amistad, the Jurassic Park movies, and Saving Private Ryan). Jaws is probably his least impressive extremely impressive film he has made. The Color Purple, for example, which was made in the 80s, is one of his best films to date. It is so dripping with complexity and detail; it differs from Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan in the sense that, when you watch it, you don't think, 'Oh this is a movie about the life of an African American family in the early twentieth century.' 'Themes' and 'topics' fade away and the film just becomes…life. It is about people, not historical figures. Danny Glover plays Albert, a nasty man who marries Celie (Whoopi Goldberg). He is furiously disappointed with the fact that he did not get to marry Netti (Akosua Busia), Celie's sister. As a result, he beats Celie and, as a result of that, Celie becomes painfully quiet and unable to smile without putting her hand in front of her mouth. The relationship between Celie and Albert is hard-hitting, melancholic, and funny. Neither character is treated cartoonishly and both actors play their characters with fairness and delicacy. This is not a work of easy melodrama. It makes you think about subjects such as femininity, the black population's quest for independence at the beginning of the new century, and the eruption of violence in a relationship without ever cheating or faltering a single step.
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Should have won at least a few Oscars
les696924 February 2010
It is amazing that this film ( though nominated for 11 ) did not win any Oscars and Mr Spielberg was not even nominated for Best Director. This is a film about a young girl dealing with abuse who tries to find love and family. The fact that the characters are black is secondary but also educates those who are ignorant of just how bad things were for blacks in the south, not just because of racism but because of the problems that the community itself chose to ignore. Incest is a strong subject for any film to cover but Mr S does it brilliantly in a way that moves all the right emotions in us.

Danny Glover plays his role perfectly,Whoopi Goldberg shines out as the main character and has never really repeated her performance in any film since,Oprah Winfrey is amazingly good and deserved an Oscar, Margaret Avery,Adolph Caesar, Laurence Fishburne,Rae Dawn Chong,Akosua Busia,Desreta Jackson, Willard Pugh,Leonard Jackson,Carl Anderson,and other cast members all did a fine job and each character comes to life.

So why was this film snubbed by the film academy? Maybe it is racist? Maybe it is the strong sexual subject matter? Whatever the reason it will go down as one of the worst decisions in Oscar history.
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Tedious and Irritating
bobstopper3 December 2006
I don't mind a film which uses tragedy to pull at heart strings, but it has to be intelligent and tasteful. The Color Purple is no such film. Spielberg lays the tragedy on with a thickness which makes it seem ludicrous. It seems the vast majority of the film does little more than try to insist upon its viewers that this woman's life is sad and unfair using methods which are so exaggerated and transparent that it distracts the viewer from getting lost in the story and simply keeps reminding them that they're watching a film which is trying far too hard to make them feel something.

Some examples of this over-reaching can be seen in Whoopi Golberg's portrayal of Celia; the ridiculous state Celia first finds her new home in; the way Celia and Shug read in turn; and the irritating mood music played on cue each time Spielberg tries to saturate us in whatever emotion he's trying to evoke in us. The concept of subtlety has been completely lost on Spielberg in this film.

The film does have its saving graces however. Apart from Goldberg's overdone portrayal of Celia, the acting is good, particularly from Oprah. The story itself (which I have not read) would quite probably be very emotional and interesting if it hadn't been told with such awkwardness. Margaret Avery's singing was divine, truly the only thing in the film that made me authentically feel something other than the urge to stop watching. For these things I give the film a 4. Had Spielberg not corrupted it so badly it quite possibly might even be worth the 7.6 stars it currently sits at on IMDb.
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good work from Whoopi
SnoopyStyle28 September 2014
Celie Johnson (Whoopi Goldberg) grows up in the south during the early 20th century. By the time she's 14 years old, she's already given birth twice by her abusive father. She is married off to "Mister" Albert Johnson (Danny Glover) who abuses her and uses her more like a slave to take care of his bratty kids. Her younger sister Nettie (Akosua Busia) comes to stay but she rejects Mister once too many times. He kicks her out. Then the outspoken Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) who marries Albert's son Harpo (Willard E. Pugh) comes into Celie's life. Mister's lover Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) stays with them and befriends Celie. It also turns out that Nettie has been living with missionaries in Africa and sending letters to Celie but Mister has been keeping them from her.

I feel worn out by the overwhelming oppression that befalls Celie. Steven Spielberg does it with a light touch that keeps it from being dark and sullen. Nevertheless I feel for Celie and suffer along side her. It's a big melodramatic farce period piece. I won't go as far as saying that this is one big stereotype. It does lack a certain realism. It feels like a folk tale. It says something about women empowerment. For that good intention and the expert production, it's a movie worth watching.
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Pre-"Schindler" masterpiece
FilmOtaku11 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I have a love/hate relationship with Steven Spielberg. I love most of his films, and I hate that I do. It would be so easy to simply discount his films as commercialized and mainstream, and some *are*, but they are almost always excellent. That was why I was so astonished by Schindler's List when it was released – instead of sharks and superhero archaeologists, suddenly we had this incredibly profound film that was *so* well done. Having said that, I would have been less astonished had I seen The Color Purple first.

*Possible Spoilers*

The Color Purple follows the tragic life of Celie (Goldberg) who has to contend with being impregnated twice by a family member, is essentially sold to a man so she can be his wife, a mother to his children from a previous marriage and resident slave and whipping post, all before the age of fifteen. Through the years she goes from being completely beat down and oppressed to gaining a voice through the help of friends and other loved ones. I was completely riveted while watching this film, despite its length. The characters are so rich, and the story so full and well paced that it was impossible to get distracted, rather I wished that the film was actually longer. There was one moment that gave me pause, when Glover's character suddenly had a change of heart, but at that point I was so enamored by the film until that then that this made me raise an eyebrow, but it was easily forgiven.

While the entire film is brilliantly executed, one particular scene to look out for is the scene when Celie is reading Nettie's letters. The incredibly creative way that Spielberg mixes the content of the letters with Celie's surroundings is almost awe-inspiring. The Color Purple is not an entirely feel-good film, but it is a compelling and one and masterfully done.

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an emotional journey that never lets go
Special-K8820 November 2002
Absorbing, ambitious, and thought-provoking story of a devout young black girl in the early 1900s rural south and her trials and tribulations—ranging from an abusive father, her cruel, misogynistic husband (Glover), and separation from her loving sister—but through it all her firm belief in the notion of hope and love. Goldberg—in a remarkable screen debut—gives a sincere, heartfelt performance and takes viewers on a powerfully emotional and uplifting journey through the changing times. Wonderful set design, terrific songs, and an exceptional supporting cast make this a must-see drama that you can experience again and again. ****
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Color Purple
P Adkins15 May 2002
Every now & then a movie touches your soul in a way that most movies only strive for. The Color Purple is a deep emotional rollercoster that takes you to a place you've never been. If any movie deserved an Oscar that year, this is the one. Whoopi Goldberg plays one of the many unfortunate girls that was "purchased" to take care of a lazy, sorry, pathetic man & his kids. This was something very common & extremly sad in its day. The story taps into many areas of abuse...between mental, physical, & emotional. The character that Whoopi played was forced to stay away from her family by the man who used her. He kept her away from "real life" because he knew he really "needed" her instead of her needing him. So, after years of being treated like she is completely beneath this berserk & crazed man, she finally relizes (with the help of his friends, his other girlfriend, & his family) that she is worth a whole lot more. By the end of this movie you feel so frazzled that you don't know what to expect for an ending...almost as if you are afraid. The ending however enforces that old saying, "what goes around, comes around." Z. 1-10 (10+)
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A heart-warming drama that doubled as a good change of pace for Spielberg
coverme618 March 2002
Steven Spielberg took a break from doing blockbuster action and science fiction films to direct the endearing drama THE COLOR PURPLE. Whoopi Goldberg stars in her most dramatic piece of work as Celie, the quiet, down-trodden African-American woman forced to endure the

physical and emotional torment delivered to her by her own husband, played with frightening intensity by Danny Glover. An example of how much trouble Celie has to go through is the way she's forced to

address her husband, by calling him "Mr." Is that abuse or what? But admist her pain, Celie gets by by keeping faith in the Lord above. All performances involved, and Spielberg's surprisingly subtle

direction, make for a great dramatic movie. A definite must-see for fans of movies that touch the heart.
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A tribute to African american women
padiyark21 January 2002
I remember when this film was up for the Academy Awards and did not win in any category. For the life of me, I cannot remember what it was up against, but one thing I can say: It was one of the best movies I have ever seen. And the fact that Steven Spielberg directed the film did not persuade me one bit.

Essentially, it is about a black woman's trials and tribulations as she is growing up from a girl to a woman. There are a lot of insinuations that are disturbing and horrifying, but all of them are needed to see how much this woman has put up with. Along the way, we see other women who have had to put up with their hardships and walk with them to redemption. Whoopi Goldberg gives her best performance ever in this movie. Danny Glover should have also gotten at least nominated for his role in this film.

And the best part of this movie is that it treats its subjects humanely, not like some sideshow freak shows like the more recent "Beloved" did. I encourage anyone of any race to see this film. 9/10
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