7. The Color Purple

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Movie: The Color Purple

Release Date: December 18, 1985

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Whoopie Goldberg, Danny Glover, Adolph Caesar, Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong, Oprah Winfrey.

Tag Lines: “Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Story.”

“It’s about life. It’s about love. It’s about us.”

Relevance: ‘The Color Purple’ was released in December of 1985. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Whoopi Goldberg, the film received critical praise and was also a commercial success in the box office. It eventually became the fourth highest grossing film of 1985, receiving eleven Academy Award nominations, winning zero. That snub catapulted my love and interest for the Oscars, something I was already a fan of thanks to my mom.

As mentioned many times before on this blog, my mom was a huge fan of movies, Hollywood and the Oscars. Her favorite time of year was Academy Award season. That night she propped herself in front of the television from the pre-Barbara Walters interview show right through until the end. She was not one to usually stay up late at night, but that changed on Oscar night. No matter how long the show lasted, she made it through the entire telecast. She loved the fashion and rooted for her favorite actors and actresses to take home the gold. I was right along side of her from the beginning, although after 1985, I became obsessed.

At fourteen, I was already a fan of both Steven Spielberg and Whoopi Goldberg. I loved all of his movies and thought Whoopi was a hoot and loved her stand-up comedy special that played incessantly on HBO. So when I was asked to go to the movies to see ‘The Color Purple’ over the holiday season that year by friends and their parents, I most certainly said yes. The theater was jammed pack and we were not all able to sit together. The mom and dad found two seats and the four remaining, their two kids, me and a friend were able to squeeze into a row together. I really didn’t know what to expect from the film but I was sure to be entertained. Boy, was I.

‘The Color Purple’ was a stunning dramatic story that absolutely took my breath away. It was probably the most serious film I had ever seen in a theater up to that point. I was completely riveted by the story and the characters and was so impressed with Whoopi Goldberg. This was not how I was used to seeing her and she was so good. Although there were parts that made me smile and laugh, it was far from her usual comedic form. In fact, for the first time ever in a movie theater, I cried. It was probably the first time I ever remember crying during a movie. It was a bit embarrassing as I was with three male friends, but I just couldn’t help it. As soon as the young sisters were separated towards the beginning of the film, the tears started rolling. By the time they were reunited at the end, I was full on bawling. It was quite an emotional journey and I loved every second of it.

On March 24, 1986, two days before my fifteenth birthday, I sat down with my mom to watch the 58th Academy Award telecast. As previously mentioned, ‘The Color Purple’ was nominated for eleven awards and I was rooting for it wholeheartedly. Even though I was already a little upset that Steven Spielberg was left out of the Best Director category, I was certain that this glorious film was going to take home at least an award or two. I was completely wrong. It lost all eleven awards and I was devastated, outraged and downright pissed. Because of the obvious racist snubs, I dove deep into my Oscar obsession. I researched, studied and observed all things Academy Awards. It became my life. Since then, I have been an Oscar junkie and have always taken these awards serious. That night has become my Super Bowl and I love every second of them.

Despite not winning any Academy Awards, ‘The Color Purple’ has remained one of my favorite movies of all time. It was a stunning dramatic adaptation of the Alice Walker novel, of which I eventually read in college. Many people think the book is far superior to the movie. I think both are superior in their own respective medium. I love them both. The film was one that I watched over and over again on VHS and eventually DVD, of which I own the special collector’s edition. ‘The Color Purple’ was one of those movies that gets referenced and quoted many, many times by me. “Miss Celie I feels like singing.” It was a movie that touched my heart, enflamed my passion for awards and stayed in my top ten movie of all time for decades.

Today’s Thoughts: “I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”

Merry Christmas! Thankfully both my husband and son were home today so today’s movie was watched by everyone. Well, it was at least on while all of us were present in the house. For eighty percent of the movie my son was on his phone, although he did ask a few questions about Whoopi and Oprah. My husband was mostly in the kitchen preparing Christmas dinner, but there was often a quote from the movie thrown from the kitchen. “Sophia home now.” I, as always, paid full attention to the film.

‘The Color Purple’ is still a fantastic movie and one that makes me so emotional to this very day. Steven Spielberg, as everyone knows by now, is my favorite director of all time. This is his eighth film on my list of most influential, favorite movies of all time. (see 234. Saving Private Ryan, 169. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 83. The Goonies, 61. E. T. the Extra-terrestrial, 52. Jurassic Park, 18. Raiders of the Lost Ark and 10. Schindler’s List for the other seven). Believe it or not, he has one more to go in my top ten, but ‘The Color Purple’ is by far my favorite drama of his.

‘The Color Purple’ comes highly recommended, especially if you are a fan of a fantastic epic stories with wonderful performances and gorgeous cinematography. The film will not disappoint. It is not a holiday movie per se, and it might make you cry a bit, but the story is uplifting and will make you feel great about your fortunate lives, even the one you are living in 2020.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Whoopi Goldberg (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Margaret Avery (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Oprah Winfrey (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Menno Meyjes (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Allen Daviau (nomination), Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, J. Michael Riva, Bo Welch, Linda DeScenna (nomination), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Aggie Guerard Rodgers (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister),” Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, Lionel Richie (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Quincy Jones (nomination), Academy Award for Best Makeup, Ken Chase (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Whoopi Goldberg (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, Best Director, Steven Spielberg (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Oprah Winfrey (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Quincy Jones (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Menno Meyjes (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Steven Spielberg (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Whoopi Goldberg (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Oprah Winfrey (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award, Whoopi Goldberg (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Film (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, Whoopi Goldberg (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Menno Meyjes (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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