The Color Purple Movie Review

Heart-wrenching and universally loved, The Color Purple isn't really about the color purple. It's about the trials and tribulations of black women in the turn-of-the-century south, and how they conquered over all the abuse, the poverty, and the lack of anything resembling a life. And it's directed by Steven Spielberg.

Whether this was Spielberg's most desperate attempt to win an Oscar (didn't work: The Color Purple received a whopping 11 Oscar nominations and won precisely zero) or a genuine kinship with the black women of the 1910s we'll never really know. But Purple is a solid enough film, though it lacks true inspiration and gets a little wandering and lost after an hour of running time (and you've still got 1 1/2 more to go!).

It's easy to see why people fell in love with this film. It's got charm galore, it's wonderfully photographed, and the acting is top shelf. The only real problem is a rambling story (the book is actually a series of letters, often written to God, which was clearly a stumbling point in the development of a motion picture script), which careens from America to Africa and back again, crossing generations and leaving all but the most patient viewer a bit confused by it all. Sample the blurb from the back of the new two-disc DVD: Celie's "search for fulfillment in a world closed to her becomes a triumph of cruelty overcome by love, of pain eclipsed by joy." What the hell does that even mean!? The Color Purple just doesn't have the time to recreate Roots, and it really shows as the film unravels in the middle -- its joy eclipsed by pain.

Known for bringing us both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in their "big break" performances, we are now reminded that both of these performers could at one time act. That Goldberg has since become a shrieking banshee and Winfrey a self-created cliché is a testament to the poor roles minority women are offered in most films. That The Color Purple has become a classic is another testament to the fact that an audience hungry for these kinds of movies is willing to settle for a slightly-above-average flick.

Whether you ultimately find meaning in the "pain eclipsed by joy," The Color Purple is a good enough film and worth checking out. It is unquestionably overwrought, but it is a truly lovely film with a lot of emotion in it. The meaning of all that emotion is unfortunately still up for grabs.

The new DVD release is fine but equally uninspired. The second disc is almost toally unnecessary, a bunch of reminiscing interviews about the making of the film, with few stories worth hearing (except the fact that they spray-painted those flowers to make them purple).

Comments

Rastis35's picture

Rastis35

I think your review is laced with too much criticism. The movie, it's makers, and the cast deserve much, much better then your cynical and snide remarks. I understand that you at least tried to "save face" by noting the film itself was great, but your attempt at critique is simply amateur and well, just lame. This film is great. From directing, to acting, to even production and cinematography, it's an all around home-run.It would be nice if you and other critics like you could just for once, stop trying to sound like the know it all, end all or be all critic of any film, and just appreciate something for a change. Because in all honesty, who listens to critics anyway? Um, not a soul that I've ever encountered.

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The Color Purple Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 1985

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