The story “The Color Purple” hits the big screen again, now with a twist. The original film, based on the book written by Alice Walker, was released in 1985. 20 years later, in 2005, this story was then adapted into a Broadway musical. Nearly another 20 years later, this story is again being retold in the form of a movie musical. Under the direction of Blitz Bazawule, former director of Beyonce’s “Black is King,” this heart wrenching and beautiful story of black women facing racism and the patriarchy comes to life.
This story begins with a young, quiet and somewhat naive Celie and tells the tale of her life. Audiences watch Celie as she struggles with loss, abuse, racism and many other hardships. It seems as though life only beats her down, teaching her to be passive while doing so. As the story continues, Celie meets women who encourage her to not endure the abuse that she has faced in the past and rather to speak up and find her voice. By the end of the movie, Celie finds her power and boldness and most importantly is surrounded by the family that she has made.
While the previous film focused on Celie’s story as one of reunion and family, the new film shifts the focus to Celie’s own journey of self-love, female friendships and finding her own voice.
This rendition of the beautiful and tragic story is brought to life through creative designs. With absolutely gorgeous visuals, amazing choices in costuming, fun and tasteful choreography and all-around wonderful work it is easy to say the story was not just told but shown.
The casting choices of the film were also phenomenal. Fantasia Barrino went from playing Celie on the Broadway stage to the big screen. Barrino was able to perfectly encapsulate both the meekness and boldness that go along with Celie’s character, all while singing with so much soul along the way. Other notable performances can be seen in Taraji P. Henson through her rendition of Shug Avery, a tempting songstress who provides a light in the darkness to Celie, and Danielle Brooks’ feisty and outspoken character, Sofia. All these supporting roles only help to add to the overall story with their talents.
And with such a talented cast, comes some beautiful music, but at times it seems the music comes at a cost. The songs work to help advance the narrative and tell some beautiful pieces of the story, but there are times it almost seems to take away. It is hard to remember you were crying five minutes ago, when you are suddenly thrown into a fun and saucy song sung by Henson or Brooks. Even with an amazingly talented cast, the songs can at times take away from the story, rather than add to it.
Despite the potential takeaways, the music was done well. Many of the cast’s talents were showcased through these songs. The songs also offered a slight break in reality, allowing for creative storytelling choices to be made.
Overall, this film was able to beautifully depict this story full of pain and hope, through not only the wonderful cast, but also the breathtaking visuals of the film. If you are able to bundle in your coats and brave the weather, take a trip to the local theater and see this movie for yourself.