Sight and Sound - 03/01/1985
"...Remarkably faithful in incident and detail to Alice Walker's original..."
New York Times - 12/18/1985
"...Momentum, warmth and staying power....[Goldberg] eventually grows into a tremendously compelling figure..."
Los Angeles Times - 12/18/1985
"...An intimate story of suffering, endurance and triumph....Distinctive and deeply moving..."
Entertainment Weekly - 03/21/2003
"...Goldberg's stoic turn will go down as one of cinema's great breakouts..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 02/07/2003
"...A heartbreaking, joyous masterpiece..."
Total Film - 03/01/2011 3 stars out of 5 -- "[Spielberg] elicits career-best performances from Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey..."
Empire - 03/01/2011 4 stars out of 5 -- "[F]ull of riveting set-pieces, bravura filmmaking and great performances from Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey."
Steven Spielberg's masterful adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel stars Whoppi Goldberg, in her impressive screen debut, as Celie, a sharecropper's daughter living in rural Georgia. The film opens in 1909 when Celie is a young girl, a victim of incest, pregnant with her father's child. Ugly and unloved, separated from her children and her sister, Celie's only option is marriage to an abusive, philandering husband (Danny Glover) who treats her little better than a slave. Her life changes forever when her husband brings his mistress, a beautiful blues singer named Shug (Margaret Avery), into the house. THE COLOR PURPLE was also the film debut for Oprah Winfrey, who beautifully plays Celie's sister-in-law, Sofia. THE COLOR PURPLE was nominated for 11 Academy Awards (including one each for Goldberg, Avery, and Winfrey) but surprisingly won no Oscars, and although the film was nominated for a Best Picture award, Spielberg was snubbed by the academy and was not nominated for Best Director.
Steven Spielberg's gentle film is a masterful adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a southern black girl's rise from tragedy to personal triumph through the course of her lifetime. The acting in the film is superb, including terrific performances by Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, and Adolph Caesar.
Battered Women |
Essential Cinema |
Family Interaction |
Tear Jerker |
Theatrical release: December 18, 1985.
The film was shot in North Carolina and Kenya.
Writer Alice Walker was very involved with the film version of her novel and made sure that the filmmakers accurately portrayed the family as middle class, not poor.
Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey made their screen-acting debuts in the film. The film's producer and composer, musician Quincy Jones, happened to spot Winfrey on television hosting a local Chicago talk show and considered her perfect for the role of the spunky, outspoken Sofia.
Winfrey, as Sofia, is married to Harpo (Willard Pugh). Winfrey has said that she felt destined to play the role--and interestingly enough, Harpo spelled backward is Oprah, adding proof to her theory.