Oprah Winfrey Presents THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, the story of a remarkable and resilient woman's quest for love and fulfillment based on the best-selling book by Zora Neale Hurston. Academy Award(R) winner Halle Berry (Best Actress 2003, MONSTER'S BALL) stars as the beautiful Janie Crawford, who embarks on an emotional and dramatic journey of self-discovery. Refusing to compromise in spite of society's expectations, Janie endures two stifling marriages until finally finding love in a passionate romance with a much younger man. In one of the greatest, most lyrical love stories ever written, Janie experiences all that life has to offer, from unbelievable triumph to unspeakable heartbreak. Be inspired again and again by this timeless story of passion, romance, and the spirit of true love. ~~(c) 2005 Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc. and Touchstone Television.
Produced by Oprah Winfrey, this lush, yet earthy telefilm was adapted from the 1937 novel by Zora Neale Hurston. Set in rural Florida, the story begins several years after emancipation. Janie (a soulful Halle Berry) is a dreamy-eyed teenager, who never knew her parents. She was raised by the bitter Nanny (Ruby Dee), an ex-slave, who marries her off to an older man the minute she gets the chance. Mr. Killicks works Janie like a dog, but leaves her alone otherwise (he's abusive in the book). Then Janie meets the courtly Joe (Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues
), who whisks her away from the muck to the black township of Eatonville. The two proceed to transform the town from a patch of dirt into a real community. Along the way, Joe becomes mayor and Janie a mere helpmate. Except for her friend Phoeby (Nicki Micheaux), the townspeople confuse her sadness for conceit and she ends up lonelier than ever. Twenty years later, Joe dies and Janie takes up with the younger Tea Cake (Michael Ealy, Barbershop
). Much like the other literary adaptations with which she's been associated (The Color Purple, Beloved
, etc.), this Oprah production boasts an impressive line-up of African-American talent, including Terrence Howard (Crash
) as the covetous Amos. A mostly successful mix between suds and substance, Their Eyes Were Watching God
, which premiered on ABC, was directed by Darnell Martin, co-written by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan Lori-Parks, and graced with a classy score by frequent Spike Lee collaborator Terence Blanchard. --Kathleen C. Fennessy