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Their Eyes Were Watching God

4.4 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

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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

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Halle Berry, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Michael Ealy, Terrence Howard, Lorraine Toussaint
  • Directors: Darnell Martin
  • Writers: Written For Television By Suzan-Lori Parks And Mis, Based On The Novel By Zora Neale Hurston
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 29, 2005
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AJJNMM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,251 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Their Eyes Were Watching God" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
After reading the book, I watched the film. What a disappointment the film was. The filmmakers have taken a book that explores the differences between women and men as well as issues of race, prejudice and class difference, and turned it into little more than a formulaic romance novel. I note that most of the reviewers who rated the film highly had not read the book. I encourage you to do so. It is such a rich novel--far richer than the film. What the screenwriter has done is purge the movie of all the more difficult issues the book deals with. Gone is Mrs. Turner's discussion of race and her prejudice against darker-skinned people. Gone is Janie's jealousy as well as the explanation for Tea Cake's violence (of course, Tea Cake's violence is gone, too, because he's supposed to be the romantic hero; romantic heroes can't hit their wives as Tea Cake does in the book). Gone are the conversations on the porch of Joe Starks store. Gone is Nanny's explanation of her reasoning for Janie's marriage to Logan Killicks. It's really too bad that the production company didn't have faith in Zora Neale Hurston's story and felt they had to over-simplify it; I'm sure the audience could have handled it in all its complexity.
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I didn't enjoy the movie because I expected it to be more like the book which was way more interesting. The book had so much more detail it gave more examples, more to imagine. There's a part in the book were it shows a Ms. Turner, but in the movie there was no Ms.Tuner. Another part is when he has to bury dead bodies it shows nothing about that in the movie. The movie cuts out a lot of parts that were in the book. Maybe if i would of just saw the movie it would have been better, but since I read the book first I expected more scenes.
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First, I will begin by saying that this movie is a poorly done romance movie, evident from the moment it "starts". The adapted story is purely plot that abandons many of Hurstons Motifs and symbolism, while making many unnecessary metaphorical inserts. All dialogue in the book is done in thick southern vernacular, something that the film neglects. Overall I would say that the movie isn't very enjoyable on its own, and not tolerable after reading the fine piece of literature that it is its inspiration.
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This is my favorite book of all time. I'm also a huge fan of Halle and Oprah, but I found this to be a very bad adaptation of the book on many levels. It was just bad. I have no idea how one would receive this movie without reading the book, but it left out so much of the book. It lacked the emotional depth. And the saddest thing is that when I first read this book in 1993 that Halle Berry would make the perfect Janie. I still think I'm right. And the fact that this was done in 2 hour movie was an atrocity. This should have been a miniseries. I still applaud Oprah for bringing Zora's work to the masses.
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The movie wasn't a good portrayal of the book. It lacked details that were vital to the whole story. When you read literature you are able to grasp the whole story and a portrayal of it could have more details, but it should never lack details. While watching the movie I was able to point out the movies qualities and flaws and how different and alike they were. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" DVD got the basic idea of the book , but the details that are missing give it a two thumbs down on my behalf. In the book when Janie Mae Crawford meets Tea Cake and they begin to become comfortable with each other , Janie leaves behing her mourning in black and starts to wear blue( being that this is Tea Cake's favorite color). In the book this was a way of showing Janies' change in attitude. These details along with many others weren't apart of the movie which threw me off and i truly disliked the movie. Some parts were exaggerated, others just weren't there!
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Format: DVD
Oprah is responsible for the filming of this classic and it is a triumph indeed. It is based on the book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Harlem Renaissance novelist, Zora Neale Hurston. The reknown Miss Hurston drew colorful depictions of of her community. She used colorful characterizations that illuminated the spitit of the black America.

Halle Berry plays heroine, "Janie", who is African American but actually looks white. Janie Crawford is raised by a strict grandmother she calls "Nanny." Nanny is determined to stamp out Janie's fire by marrying her off early. In my opinion, Berry shines in this role and pulls off Janie's sex appeal and beauty as described in Hurston's book.

Janie's marriage to the elderly first husband ends when she leaves him and walks off with husband number 2, Joe Starks, who promised to "show her the world." Hurston's descriptions of Janie's meticulous second husband is worth noting. We peer into their disagreements about how Janie should appear before the public as the mayor's wife and listen in on the gossip that follows as the townspeople marvel at her transformation into a lady.

Hurston's great dialogue captures the ongoing gossip of the townspeople who are quick to notice when things turn sour in Janie's house-hold. They wonder what she will do with herself when her husband dies, leaving her all his money.

You will champion Janie's strong will to be who she wanted to be and cheer her on as she sheds her mourning clothes and trades them in for pretty dresses, letting her proverbial hair down again!

When a gorgeous drifter by the name of Tea Cake comes to town, you sense what Janie will do once he catches her eye!
Read more ›
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