The Color Purple is a big, spectacular spectacle, mixing the styles of Broadway musicals, Hollywood studio films and music videos, with a mix of gospel, pop, blues and ballads, all coming together in one spectacular film. Exuberance is an odd choice for the story of a woman abused by her father and husband and brutally separated from her sister and her children. A style that is effective because what the characters hide is as revelatory as what they reveal. But transferring letters to more visual forms like theater and film is exceptionally difficult. Voice-over can help, but only to a certain extent.
Walker won a Pulitzer for her novel, becoming the first black woman to win the award for fiction. In 1985, the first big-screen adaptation came out, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover and directed by Steven Spielberg. Now, nearly four decades later, comes an invigorating new version from director Blitz Bezewule, who collaborated with Beyoncé on her 2020 visual album “Black Is King.” Rather than reject what came before, the Ghanian filmmaker embraced and produced it, collaborating with Spielberg, Quincy Jones, and Oprah Winfrey to update the material for the next generation (all three served as producers. Did).
“The Color Purple” catalogs a staggering amount of trauma, but it takes no pleasure in depicting it – this can be challenging in stories where a character suffers for years before finally finding relief. , And that’s saying something, because the director has brought such an iconic touch to the material that his choices are echoed in Bazawule’s approach.
Released on Christmas Day in the US, with a January 26 release planned in the UK, this Warner Bros. picture could be a major player both commercially and with voters. Henson and Colman Domingo – not to mention Danielle Brooks and Fantasia Barrino, who were part of the Broadway revival. Expect to spark verbal conversations during the holidays.
Often, the songs express the suppressed pain and desire felt by female characters who, on various levels, are stagnant in a patriarchal, racist society that keeps them oppressed. As a result, the musical performances are extremely moving, with Celie and her friends singing what they can’t say. Still, there is an interesting tension within the musical, which sheds a harsh light on black lives grappling with poverty, bigotry, and lack of education, as well as rape and spousal neglect in America shortly after the abolition of slavery. Examines the characters.
Bazawule and Nick Baxter write a new song, “Workin‘”, for Harpo, performed while building a swamp-side juke joint, which leads him on his entrepreneurial path. The apparent rift between the Mister and his eldest son is humorously explained when Harpo and the men on his construction crew split up after Sophia and the women take over.
That almost throwaway song, like many musical interludes, was taken from LaChanze in the role of Celie on Broadway. If there’s a serious flaw in Bazwule’s approach to the material, it’s in the early realization that not every song needs to be this big.
While there’s the undeniable spectacle of giddy churchgoers heading to Sunday service, this version, directed by Blitz Bezwule and produced by many of the people involved along the way (including Spielberg, Winfrey, Jones, and the Broadway show’s creator Scott Sanders), is a classic. Definitely is. Ready for success. But the film could have benefited from the placement of one or two intimate songs earlier, especially in terms of emotional access to a protagonist who, by narrative design, takes a long time to find his voice.