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The Color Purple More at IMDbPro »

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101 out of 130 people found the following review useful:

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

10/10
Author: Donald J. Lamb from Philadelphia, PA
28 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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60 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

Simply beautiful

Author: Sarah Cooper from United States of America
26 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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51 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

Remarkably moving story from the maestro

Author: King_Opossum from somewhere much higher than you...
18 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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45 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

huge achievement from Spielberg

8/10
Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
14 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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54 out of 86 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece!

Author: Brianh0401-2
6 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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37 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

Commenting on the 20th Anniversary of this film.

Author: raysond from Chapel Hill, North Carolina
13 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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28 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Forgotten Spielberg Masterpiece

Author: tfrizzell from United States
2 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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22 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

This is a movie!

10/10
Author: Emily Francesca Ringstroem (lrb768h@tninet.se) from Stockholm, Sweden
10 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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31 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Vintage Spielberg In Both The Good & Bad

7/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
27 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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35 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

A White Supremacist's Wet Dream

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
25 November 2009

*** This review may contain 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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