Well, if you thought the book by Alice Walker was amazing, you must see the movie. Spielberg has taken the heart of the story and made it into a stunning and sensitive triumph. While it is not scene for scene identical to the Pulitzer prize-winning novel, the movie does maintain the spirit of it, bringing it to life in blazing colour. One of the scenes that is different from the novel is where Shug (short for Sugar) leads a parade of non-church goers from the speakeasy where she’s performing for picnickers and boaters all the way to the church where her daddy is minister, and all the way there, she’s belting the gospel hymn along with the church choir. It’s a beautiful, spring day, and the reconciliation between Shug and her daddy is not only moving but symbolic of the way Celie’s whole family becomes reunited: Sophia (Oprah Winfrey) and Harpo, Celie (Whoopie Goldberg) and Nettie, and Celie and her children.
I loved the way Celie and Nettie reunite in the field of purple flowers, right where the story began. I loved the music, most of which was composed by Quincy Jones. I also loved the costumes, especially the ones Nettie and Celie’s children were wearing when they returned home from Africa, and Nettie wearing the purple wrap. I pretty much loved everything, right down to the purple text in the credits.
This was Whoopie’s film debut and it was incredible to see her character develop; she ran a gauntlet of emotions through several decades first as a carefree child, then a scared adolescent abused by her daddy, to a new bride in an intolerable setting, unappreciated and misused, to a woman who comes to value herself as someone with a contribution to make and a rock for others to hold onto.
Oprah’s character, Sophia, was also wonderful (Oprah’s acting debut also) and both she and Whoopie were nominated for Oscars for their performances; the movie itself received 8 other nominations. The movie, director, and actresses were nominated for numerous other awards and won many. Danny Glover also gave an incredible performance as Celie’s husband who beat her because she wasn’t Shug.
It was wonderful to see the characters from Walker’s book come to life. Even the African scenes, and the way the music and the cutting was juxtaposed between the two continents, the two ways of life, came together in such a beautiful way. I can’t say enough about this movie. I would say, read the book first, and then watch the movie. The DVD pictured at the top is the edition I bought and it is a book with pictures from the movie, comments from Spielberg about his initial indecision about making the movie, pages about the actors and actresses, and how the novel came to be adapted for screen. There are also several features included on the DVD which give you a broader picture about the making of the movie. Absolutely amazing!! * * * * *
Both book and DVD are available at Amazon.