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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Color Purple [Blu-ray Book]
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142 of 149 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is the best movie I have ever seen. Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Gover are magnificent, and the supporting cast does an equally impressive job. On an artistic level the film is wonderful, but its emotional effectiveness (a rare combination of rawness and innocence) is indescribable. I first saw The Color Purple when I was 11 (I'm 16 now). I live in rural Louisiana, where despite major advances in American society in general, violent racism thrives. I honestly believe that if I had not seen this film, I might have become one of those men whose only joy is hatred. I remember vividly the exact moment I abandoned racism (and many other prejudices) and became a better person: the scene in which Sophia is attacked outside the store. She'd just been hit in the head, and as she lay on the ground the wind blew her dress over her head, exposing her underwear. I am crying right now remembering that moment, that stripping away of dignity... The movie is beautiful, simple, and powerful. Don't be afraid to let children watch it, because sometimes children's lives can be changed too.
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138 of 146 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 1999
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I just bought this disc and watched it last night. I bawled my eyes out. I haven't seen it in many years and had forgotten what an incredible film it is. I gave it only 4 stars because of what many other reviewers have said about the DVD -- it's not double-layered and requires a "flip" right after Celie and Shug kiss.
I was particularly moved by Oprah Winfrey's performance. We all know her as OPRAH now. I'd forgotten how amazing she was in COLOR PURPLE.
I think if Spielberg made this movie today he might not shy away from some of the heavier themes like he did in 1985. But his filmmaking technique was incredible for this film. It plays like an old-fashioned Hollywood movie. The colors are gorgeous. (How did they get all those perfectly purple flowers in that field ? ) The camera work is exciting.
Everyone has their "crying" moments in COLOR PURPLE. These are mine: 1. The breakup of the sisters ("Ain't no mountain, ain't no sea..."). 2. Celie gets the letter ("I got two children..."). 3. God's Tryin To Tell You Something ("See daddy, even singers got soul") and, of course, 4. The end.
It's about life. It's about love. It's about us. Thank you Alice Walker, Steven Spielberg, and Whoopi.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Having just watched the two-disc "Special Edition" of COLOR PURPLE this weekend, I believe this newer version has outdone the original single-disc dvd that was released in 1999 (which you had to flip over halfway through in order to see the second half of the film.)
The second disc of this "Special Edition" contains several excellent documentaries about the making of COLOR PURPLE. Most refreshing is Alice Walker herself, who is wise and thoughtful about the movie-making aspect of her Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Steven Spielberg has some reflectful things to say as well - he admits to his own limitations in filming the Shug/Celie love scene. (Alice Walker calls the scene "sweet").
Oprah appears looking glamorous and very different from her mid-80's self. As she tells the story of how she won the part of Sophia, one cannot help but be moved. Whoopie Goldberg, too, is very humble about the process of winning then filming the role of Celie.
It's wonderful to see the new interviews with the cast (Margaret Avery looks incredible!) - and shocking that COLOR PURPLE did not win in any of the categories it was nominated for at the Academy Awards. I always thought that Akosua Busia gave an incredible performance as Nettie - did you know she shares a screenwriting credit on Winfrey's BELOVED?
Watching the film again was a wonderful experience. The dvd looks incredible and sounds great - no complaints there. (It is dual-layered, so it is not necessary to flip the disc any more!) Spielberg can still tug my heartstrings with this movie. I cry on cue at several scenes. His direction and the actors' performances are truly wonderful. My only qualm is that THE COLOR PURPLE is an old-fashioned film in style. It is more like GONE WITH THE WIND than BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA. There are some themes that Spielberg glosses over that could have been examined more closely. The film is not diminished by this. Another director, however, would have made a differently styled film.
THE COLOR PURPLE is one of my all-time favorite films. I'm glad to have this "Special Edition" in my dvd library.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2000
Format: DVD
Despite the ever so popular view that the film is a condemnation of black men I (a black male) have to disagree. What the film so adeptly demonstrates is the very harsh realities that far too many women (black women in particular) have had to endure for far too long in a male dominated society. The strength of all of the female characters is indominatable. That being said we should not forget how important racism was in creating the attitudes of black males then as today. That doesn't excuse the behavior nor eliminate the responsibility for the acts but it does however help to explain them.
Spielberg's direction is better (in my opinion) in this film than in any other film of his career (Schindler's List) included. For him not to have received the Oscar as best director and for this film to have been denied the Best Picture award is one of many great injustices perpertrated by the ... hollywood establishment. The most dramatic (not emotional mind you) scene in the movie is when Celie is getting ready to shave Mister at the same time as her son is undertaking his ritual and Shug has intuition about Celie's murderous intent. Absolutely flawless. The music was perfect as it built in intensity.
You'll laugh, cry, think and be entertained. What more could you ask for.
Whoopi Goldberg is one of the best dramatic actresses I think i've ever seen. The same can't be said for her less than comedic talents. Oprah and Margeret Avery were outstanding and so deftly contrast Whoopi's performance and underscore the many different indignities suffered by all of the women albeit in different ways.
It ultimately is a triumph of the human spirit.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2003
Format: DVD
Steven Spielberg's first cinematic attempt to delve deeper than escapism produced a rich, heartfelt epic that matched the Pulitzer Prize-winning credentials of Alice Walker's novel, receiving 11 Oscar nominations but famously winning none of them. The Color Purple is a triumph of all elements of production design, nominated for its screenplay, cinematography, makeup, costumes, art direction, score, and three of its actresses - though not for director Spielberg. The snub may have helped push him as an artist toward such prestigious works as Schindler's List. One would hardly guess Whoopi Goldberg's roots were in comedy, given the layered dramatic performance she offers in her first real screen role. Oprah Winfrey (also debuting) and Margaret Avery are the other two-thirds of the heart-breaking dynamic between three black women in Spielberg's brutal world of racial and sexual prejudice. Even Danny Glover's role shows late-blooming sympathy, however agonizingly wrought, which demonstrates the dimension of Menno Meyjes' script. There's nothing simple about this early 20th century South, populated by characters paralyzed by the roles ascribed to them, and wickedly punished when they try to venture beyond their bounds. It boils the blood at the same time that it touches the soul, making for genuinely tear-soaked cinema with a visceral emotional payoff.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2005
Format: DVD
I saw The Color Purple first in the cinemas in 1985 when it first came out. I remember the scandal when it failed to win a single Academy Award after it received eleven nominations. After I saw the films that won the Oscars, I felt the outrage. This movie deserved the award for Best Picture without a doubt, and while some people could have debated if Whoopi Goldberg deserved Best Actress, hindsight would have ended that debate instantly, because it was the only time she ever played a role with subtlety; she was magnificent, and there's no arguing that point.

The arguments against the film were that the film is a tear-jerker, the story stereotypes all the women as virtuous, all the men as evil, all the whites as victimizers -- but this is an adaptation of a novel, not an original screenplay, and the blame for these shortcomings lies in the Alice Walker original novel, not Steven Spielberg's work. Alice Walker's works all revolve around similar themes, so anyone familiar with her writings knows what to expect. Some critics claimed that Spielberg's rendition made the story seem much too glamorous, too glorified, too sweet, but years later, those criticisms seem too absurd to take seriously, as the stark realism that he later revealed in Schindler's List is evident in the scenes of brutality in which Celie is brutally raped and does her best to survive the experience.

The story is, however, a very emotional one, the story of a bond between two sisters who grew up under very difficult conditions by anybody's definition. It is the bond betwee those two sisters, the separation that takes place between them, and their ultimate reunion, that is the heart of the story, with a lot that happens along the way that can move mountains.

The performances of Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey are unforgettable and earned them Oscar nominations. Danny Glover as her brutal husband Albert appears as most of the men in the movie appear, but he is afforded the chance to show a true character that develops and grows as the story progresses so that at the end, he is able to show his repentance in the only way he knows how. Throughout the film, the sumptuous score of Quincy Jones gives a special touch that after twenty years has not lost its charm.

The film did not receive nearly as much credit as it deserved in 1985, which was criminal enough. As many times as I have seen it since, the more I have come to admire the film and realize just how monumental it really was.

The funny thing is that I remember on the day that I was sitting in the movie theater when I first saw the film (I was in Tel Aviv at the time, I remember), I had a key chain that was designed to beep when a person would whistle. When the music would start or when Whoopi Goldberg would shriek, the key chain would go off every time. I was constantly trying to cover it up so as not to disturb the people around me. Since that first viewing, I have found it much more relaxing to watch the film without such distractions, but even so, the film truly is a masterpiece, and it deserves all the credit that it did not receive in 1985.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
By turns devastating and uplifting, Steve Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is one of those rare films that effectively captures and builds on the book's underlying themes and moods. Epic and grand in its exectution, "The Color Purple" is accessible to viewers of any race and is no more an "african-american" film than "Gone With the Wind" was a "southern" film. The themes presented here - tolerance, integration, poverty, aspiration and assimilation - are universal and real and Spielberg delivers a potent mix of superb film technique, a well-crafted plot and simply said, breakthtakingly heartfelt performances from an all-star cast.
Whoopie Goldberg earned an Oscar nod for her amazing performance as Celie, literally transforming herself from the stand-up comedienne we all know and love into a sensitive woman-child whose life is a mix of tragedy and triumph. Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey are bookends in Celie's life - they embody their characters fully and in doing so, complete a triad of powerful women coping with fear, loss and repression that testify to the unique challenges women, and especially women of color, face even today. Very few films deserve to be classified as required viewing for all - "Schindler's List" "Birth of a Nation" are two that come to mind - and "The Color Purple" is one of them. Filled with raw dramatic power and awe-inspiring humanity, "The Color Purple" is a film for the ages. Read the book and watch the film to see how great film adaptations are done!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2005
Format: DVD
I just recently watched this film again and, after all these years, I am still enthralled.

The story, for those who are not familiar, is based on a series of letters to God from a girl, and then woman, named Celie. Over the years, Celie is separated from her sister, stuck in an arranged marriage with a wife beater and ultimately comes to her own epiphany which sets about a series of changes in all of the characters.

This is a movie you can get lost in, as both the acting and the directing are top knotch. It is rare to find a film that does not shock you out of its world at some point.

One of the things I appreciate the most is the transfer. Most films are transfered to video/DVD without the direction of the cinematographer. This quick, cheap process ends up with a film that loses its original brilliance. It would have been a shame if Speilberg had not had Daviau present at the transfer. And, because he did, the colors pop out at you the same way they did in the theater.

When the film came out, I saw it in the theater. That year, Out of Africa swept the Oscars, which I feel is a shame as both the direction and cinematography of this film far outshine the winner.

I would get the single disc over the two disc in this instance, unless you are really into this film. The extra features are interesting, but not really compelling.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
The Color Purple is a wonderful film, full of beautiful cinamatography, complex characters, and emotional rollercoasters. From the opening scene of two sisters in a field of purple flowers to the african savanna to the rolling fields of Georgia, this film is almost tangible. The character development is intriuging. I loved watching Celie on her road of self-discovery, and the people she met along the way. Every time I watch this movie I cry for her; I cry in happiness when Shug's father hugs her, I cry in dispair when Nettie is torn from Celie's life, I cry in joy when Shug sings "Miss Celie's Blues." Everyone should give this movie a chance, for it is truely unique.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"The Color Purple" has so many messages, moral and otherwise, that they blur together into what can only be described as wisdom. As an Australian I can't claim to know a lot about the black experience in the south, in the early 20th century. Despite that, I get a strong sense of realism from this film, in the same way we are forced to believe someone when they admit a degrading fact about themselves.
The heart of this movie is a woman named Celie. Woopie Goldberg was cast in the role and it represents her first cinematic outing. She was nominated for an Academy Award and, in my opinion, should have won it. Celie doesn't get to talk much, is subservient to many of the larger powers in her life and yet still manages to communicate depths of emotion few of us ever see in our own lives.
Our sympathies go out to Celie from the start, when we see her as a child playing in a meadow with her sister, Nettie. Hidden at first, her pregnancy is soon revealed, as the result of an incestuous rape. Celie, still a child, is soon separated from her own offspring, for the second time and then torn apart from her sister, as Celie is consigned to her new husband. Married life becomes another form of servitude, including the same chores, sexual abuse and mental anguish but without her sister's love. Nettie somehow gets shipped of to Africa, as a nanny to some missionaries. We only see enough of her life to know that it is a rich and fulfilling one, in stark contrast to Celie's.
Celie has a strange and extended family. Her husband, Albert, called only "Mister" by Celie, is a petty and deliberately cruel man. He seems to sense that there is more value in Celie than he will ever possess and thus never stints in holding his power over her. Albert's mistress, Shug Avery, is a degraded yet stylish club singer who eventually loves Celie more than Albert. He was never more than a passing convenience to Shug. Albert has a son from a previous marriage, Harpo. For some reason, the strongest character in the film, Sofia, played very convincingly by Oprah Winfrey, decides she is going to marry Harpo and does just that. In many ways, Sofia's rude awakening to the realities of her world, at the hands of the local mayor, his wife and the police, is sadder than Celie's plight. After all, Celie never had hopes or expectations to lose.
As the story progresses, Celie starts to emerge from her cocoon. Helped in part by her husband's mistress. She becomes aware of her own inner beauty and her own power. This transformation is so gradual that we almost believe nothing is changing but by the end of the film, Celie is a woman in control of her own destiny and a force for good in her community. We are not asked to believe that patience is all that is required to overcome evil. Celie has her fair share of confrontations and setbacks. Instead we learn that even the palest plant, deprived of sunlight all its life, may eventually blossom into something special. All it may need is a little encouragement.
I don't watch The Color Purple as regularly as some of the other films in my collection. It is hard going in spots. But, if you ever start feeling a little sorry for yourself, I recommend this movie. Not only will it put your troubles into proper perspective but it will also lift up your heart as few films can.
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