By Jennifer Nanek
News Film Critic 

The Color Purple: A Triumphant Return

 

Last updated 1/29/2024 at 5:27pm

Courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures

The Color Purple is directed by Blitz Bazawule and stars Fantasia Barrino, Taraj P Henson, Colman Domingo and Danielle Brooks. The film was produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom played major roles in creating the original movie.

The beloved story of Celie Johnson is returned to the big screen, and this time, it's singing its heart out. "The Color Purple" (2023) is a triumphant musical adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and it's a testament to the enduring power of this timeless tale.

The film is actually based upon the Broadway musical more than the book, even though it's basically the same story. I had seen the original movie and I did read the book once upon a time. I had not seen the show nor was I familiar with the music. When I first heard about a remake, I thought it was very weird to set the story to music, but it worked! I was impressed.

This movie is directed by Blitz Bazawule and stars Fantasia Barrino, Taraj P Henson, Colman Domingo and Danielle Brooks. The film is produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom played major roles in creating the original movie.

I very much loved seeing this work. There was a part of me that thought the music and the dancing would be stupid but I very much was captivated by it. The music usually fit in with the scene and the dialogue very well.

The soaring gospel melodies, soulful blues riffs, and playful rhythms perfectly capture the spectrum of emotions Celie and others experiences. From the heart-wrenching sorrow of "Sister" to the defiant joy of "Hell No," the music becomes an integral part of the storytelling, leaving audiences in tears long after the credits roll.

The performances in "The Color Purple" are equally unforgettable. Coleman Domingo, whom I love from Fear The Walking Dead, delivers a nuanced portrayal of Mister, balancing his cruelty with moments of vulnerability that add depth to the character. The actor playing Sophia, Danielle Brooks, brings an electrifying energy to the screen, illuminating Sophia's vibrant spirit and unwavering support for Celie. Brooks recently got an Oscar nomination for this performance and it is well deserved.

While some may see this new adaptation as a departure from the original film, it's this very boldness that makes it shine. The musical numbers inject fresh energy into the story, and the performances breathe new life into these beloved characters. Ultimately, "The Color Purple" remains a powerful and uplifting story.

I particularly appreciated how this adaptation delved deeper into the emotional complexities of the relationships between the women. The bond between Celie and Shug Avery, for example, felt more nuanced and tender than in previous versions. Additionally, the exploration of queer themes added a layer of depth and authenticity to the narrative. Funny enough though in some ways this movie is a bit more reserved about showing certain scenes than the movie from the 1980s.

While the film doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of racism, sexism, and abuse faced by Black women in the early 20th century, it ultimately ends on a note of hope and empowerment. Celie's journey of reclaiming her voice and finding her own strength is truly inspiring The final scene, with her surrounded by the women she loves and who love her back, and having her family back, made me cry as much as the original.

Overall, I highly recommend the new "The Color Purple" as a must-see. It's a film that will stay with you long after the lights dim, leaving you feeling hopeful.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Excellent film.

 

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