Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Color Purple (1985) (3rd time)

The life and trials of a young African American woman. [imdb]

Nominated for 11 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Actress: Whoopi Goldberg
Best Supporting Actress: Margaret Avery
Best Supporting Actress: Oprah Winfrey
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Original Score
Best Original Song
Best Cinematography
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
Best Makeup

You know when you've seen a film once or twice a couple of years before and you are certain it's one of your alltime favorites? So much that you include it in your Top 5 ever? Well, this is what happened to me and The Color Purple - but when I've seen it now, years later, for my blog: some of the magic was lost. :( And I can see the flaws, which are plenty. This doesn't mean I've stopped liking the film, I still think it's magic: only that I can't call it an alltime favorite anymore, if I'm being honest with my choices.

The first 30 minutes are really the weakest, with the story lacking a clear focus and with more of a naive way of telling us what happens. As soon as Whoopi gets on screen as grown-up Celie, everything moves better, with the characters of Sophie & Shug also bringing plenty of great stuff to see. Overall, it remains an impressive achievement, and the film grows in quality as we get more used to the characters. Two scenes are filled with emotions and so representative for the heart of the film; both towards the end: God Is Trying to Tell You Something and the cheesy, but so heart warming reunion at the ending.

Talking Oscar, you surely know the film holds an unfortunate record: it ties The Turning Point (1977) for most nominations for a film, without a single win; it deserved better than this. Also, its director, none other than Steven Spielberg, didn't get nominated although he had won the prestigious Directors Guild Award, usually an Oscar indicator. Whoopi Goldberg was a favorite to win and had the chance to make history as the first African American to win Best Actress, but lost to veteran actress Geraldine Page. Margaret Avery & Oprah Winfrey give fantastic supporting performances, and any of them would've deserved a win.

I hope I'm never asked to choose a Best Picture winner for 1985, as you might remember my renewed love affair with winner Out of Africa. Having to choose between that one and The Color Purple would be an impossible task for me.

My rating for the film: 9/10. If you haven't seen it, run to it immediately.


  1. As you say Andrew, the pacing's a bit odd in the first act, but once we get into the story it's apparent that you're watching one of the best films of the 80's.

    For me this beats Out of Africa hands down.

  2. Rewatching this does lessen its impact a bit. But it's still melodrama done so well.

    Spielberg deserved a nom for Best Director.

    But with the fight between this and Out of Africa, I'd say Out of Africa.

  3. I love the film and I feel the opposite way: I think it's power grows with repeated viewings.....

    I think it's much better then Out Of Africa, though my mom doesn't agree!!!