Saturday, November 30, 2013

226 of 1001 Movies: The Color Purple (1985)

Steven Spielberg can put a touch of Spielberg to anything, no matter how harsh the subject matter is. There is a certain level of sentimental nature and humor that he always puts in his movies, and sometimes it works better than others. It works some in The Color Purple, but also takes away from the serious subject a bit. There is also that struggle as I have found in many Spielberg movies to really connect with the characters. I think as always his filming is beautiful, the story is powerful, and the music score is beautiful, but as with many of his movie it somehow goes over the top.

Summary: Celie is a young African American girl who when we meet is pregnant and still a teenager. For the next thirty years though we will continue to follow her tough life. As she marries an abusive husband who already has several children, and is separated from her sister, to the moment she meets women with powerful voices that inspire her. Celie though has yet to find her own voice in what has always been a world designed for men.

Acting: Whoopi Goldberg starred in her first big time role with this movie, and really stole the show. She plays Cecil beautifully. I love how Goldberg completely transforms herself into this submissive, meek woman who needs to find herself. It is so opposite of who she is. Oprah Winfrey also is great as Sofia. I don't think Winfrey gets enough credit, and I have no idea how she didn't depart more into acting. She plays of course the strong, vocal woman you would expect, but she became the most interesting character for me. Margaret Avery plays my favorite performance in the whole movie though as Shug. I loved her role and her character. She has her flaws but she tries to be strong, and confident despite them. I love how she took Cecil under wing as well. Danny Glover also stars as Albert, and to be honest I struggled throughout with imaging Glove so bad, but he worked it.

Filming: In typical Spielberg fashion the shots are really amazing, and make the movie timeless. The movie is full of color with shots of a beautiful flower field to a really amazing sunset. This seems to be in pretty stark contrast to the dark content of the movie about a woman in bondage. It makes for some amazing footage on film to look at, but it also feels like a distraction from the characters. Is Spielberg wanting to bring a movie about the characters and how they overcome the bondage that males have dealt them or is he wanting to try to create the most visually stunning movie he can?

Plot: I think the plot develops well. If you haven't read the book you're always wondering how it will develop next. Some people have complained that all the males are bad guys in this movie or just dumb. I would disagree. I get that Harpo isn't the smartest of guys, and many wondered how he had changed as Sofia had. I think in the end the point was that neither Harpo or Sofia changed. What led them to want to be together in the first is what stuck them together again. This also isn't a movie about men. There are a ton of movies out there about men. So if you're a guy who is watching this and can't relate then get in line with the females out there who have sat through summer blockbuster after blockbuster to find the movies stretching it to include at least one likable female character. Also, a lot said that this movie is for women in general, and I disagree with that too. There is one white woman in this movie, and she isn't made out to be the most likable character, so I wouldn't even argue that this movie is to empower women.

The Color Purple has great acting and a great story. I believe that Spielberg is a good director. His directing though just feels a bit unsuited to the dark nature of this story. He adds in humor to the story and it just takes away from the serious vibe of the movie. Spielberg though brings out that American vibe in his movies. It's hard to describe what that particularly is, but it just feels American. Anyways, the story is meant to get you to tears, and with it already setting itself up to do that it over shoots the emotions and feels like a good story but not one that particularly strikes you into emotions.

Rating 7 of 10.

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