In celebration of Black History Month, we’re making daily movie recommendations, presented in chronological order of the films’ stories.
Stay tuned to Noovie every day as we highlight an original, landmark film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.
February 3 – The Color Purple (1909 - 1949)
Adapted from Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning-novel by screenwriter Menno Meyjes, “The Color Purple” represented popular filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s first foray into serious dramatic filmmaking. It also introduced the world to two legendary cultural icons: Whoopi Goldberg in the film’s starring role as the abused but ultimately victorious Celie; and Oprah Winfrey as the strong-willed Sofia. Watch the Trailer
Set over the course of 4 decades in the early to mid-20thcentury in a very specific rural southern setting, “The Color Purple” details the tragic conditions (domestic violence, sexual abuse, racism, incest, pedophilia and poverty) that befall several African American women – in particular a woman named Celie. Impregnated repeatedly by her own father, passed on to an abusive husband called “Mister” (Danny Glover), separated from the sister who loves her, Celie’s mere survival over the years is noteworthy.
Celie’s watches as Mister’s son is married off to the outspoken Sofia, whose remarkable spirit is unfortunately ultimately broken in ways after she stands up to the town’s crooked mayor. Celie also is forced to care for years for her husband’s beautiful mistress, a singer named Shug Avery (Maragret Avery). The relationship, though, deepens as the two women find comfort, and real love, in each other.
Despite the abuse in Celie’s life, she comes to find inner strength that outshines all of that darkness, and the resolution of the film, which weds Spielberg’s storytelling with the power of Alice Walker’s source material, is a triumph of spirit that is truly earned.
“The Color Purple” was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Whoopi Goldberg, and Best Supporting Actress for both Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery. Strangely, it was not nominated for Best Director. And unfortunately, it did not win in any of its categories.
However, the film’s reputation has only grown stronger through the decades since its release, and is now rightfully seen as a classic, brought to the screen by a director and stars that have continued to make their presence felt in the medium, and culture at large.
Where to Watch
The Color Purple
Drama / 1985 / PG-13
An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South who survives incredible abuse and bigotry. After Celie's abusive father marries her off to the equally debasing "Mister" Albert Johnson (Danny Glover), things go from bad to worse, leaving Celie to find companionship anywhere she can. She perseveres, holding on to her dream of one day being reunited with her sister in Africa. Based on the novel by Alice Walker.