Another Look at One of My All-Time Favorites

Can you believe The Color Purple is not listed in either AFI's 100 Greatest Movies of All Time or Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Movies? (It looks like I left a word or two out in that last one but that's what it's called.) Anyway, I can't believe it. I mean, I don't know many women who can't recount several favorite, moving scenes from The Color Purple.

Maybe it is a woman thing and, therefore, about half of the population wouldn't be as enamored with it. But even though it was released in 1983, this movie is as visually-stunning, in my opinion, as anything released more recently. As for the story behind the pictures, much of the daring and original plot is unforgiving and sometimes painful to absorb...but the viewer who makes the investment in this journey will be rewarded by sharing in the protagonists' uplifting victories and affirmation.

Phew. Sometimes I go off the melodrama deep end.

So tonight I watched a bit of The Color Purple on television. I didn't really watch the whole thing because it wasn't in letterbox format. (Yes, I'm a movie purist and it drives me nuts to not be able to see a third of the original picture.) I did see two of the most powerful scenes, though. The first one I really get into is where Mister is throwing Nettie out of the house as Celie cries and struggles against him to keep Nettie there. Raw emotion (and a completely committed delivery) is what makes this scene so deeply moving. In a documentary about the movie, Steven Spielberg talked about how hard it was for him to get Danny Glover to really let himself go all the way into character for the scene. The emotional cruelty (and physical domination) Mister displayed toward Celie and Nettie in the scene was just difficult for Glover, even as an actor.

I have no problem at all believing that. Just watching the scene makes me cry every single time. Not only does Danny Glover manage to pull off one of Mister's most heartless moments (despite Glover's real-life status as a nice guy), Desreta Jackson and Akorua Busia held nothing back and you would think their hearts truly broke every time they went through the scene.

My other favorite scene is the final one. Cinematically, just the pictures themselves are perfect metaphors that underline the literal Celie moving through her friends and family to see who has arrived at the house...and each of the other characters standing completely still, transfixed and wondering as Celie realizes who is there on the road. When the bright, colorful wraps of the travelers float up behind them in the wind and dust, Celie knows it is her sister whom she'd been forcibly separated from most of her married life (and living in Africa).

Hold on...let me get a tissue.


This movie is an absolute journey. If you haven't watched it, you really should (maybe more so if you're a woman). If you can handle the heartache, the end will be worth it. Even if you chose to read this, knowing that the ending would be told to you, seeing for yourself will really be so, so much more. Besides, there is so much to this story that I left out. And there is really no way I can do The Color Purple justice with just words.

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