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‘The Color Purple’ 4K UHD (Blu-ray review)

Warner Bros.

Alice Walker’s book The Color Purple has become an important part of American literary culture. Its impact at the time of its release was so seismic. Winning the Pulitzer and in just three years it was made a major motion picture by Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg. The Jones and Spielberg’s 1985 release of The Color Purple catapulted both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey’s acting and media careers.

The Color Purple is the story of two young black sisters living in rural Georgia pre-WWI. Celie and Nettie “escape” their lecherous, widowed father only to be violently separated by Celie’s abusive husband Mister Albert (Danny Glover).

The film follows half a lifetime of adult Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) as she grows from a nearly silent, cowering survivor of domestic violence and racism to a woman who finds her value and spirit through unlikely relationships in her life.

The three female leads show strength and how it can have many ways of being; Celie with her quiet strength, Shug (Margaret Avery), Albert’s mistress,  with the power of her sexuality, and Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) with her straightforward, coming out swinging (often literally) energy.

Whoopi Goldberg had been known primarily as a comedian until the film’s release.  Her performance as Celie is both heart-wrenching and empowering to watch her transform from a cowering heap to a woman who knows her worth.

Oprah shines in her debut role, taking on the character of Sofia making it look as easy as breathing. The 1985 version is not a musical per se but has a strong musical element. Margaret Avery’s jazz maven Shug Avery belts and croons songs that stay with you long after the credits have rolled. It seems only natural that all successive productions of The Color Purple have been musicals.

Extras include featurettes, and trailers.

Soooo many tissues.  The Color Purple does not flinch from the violence these women experience. As a young girl, I saw the 1985 version of The Color Purple multiple times on cable.  I was obsessed with Miss Celia’s story, her life so very different from my own.  I don’t know if it was a good or bad thing for an 11-year-old to see.

Watching it with my mom, we had many conversations about difficult subjects. No character is untouched by the cycle of abuse. Parent to child, spouse to spouse, White people to Black People, and Colonialism in multiple countries. Yet each character has the opportunity to break the cycle of abuse.

The Color Purple is an excellent gateway into important conversations that are as relevant today as when the film was released.





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