Okay, I’m back! I finally have something to write about for Black History Month! I was going to write an article about the new Borderlands trailer, but I can talk about that later. I want to jump in the celebration of Black Excellence. I had an inkling to watch The Color Purple for some time. I’ve had some…reservations that it was going to be a very sad movie about slavery. Luckily, it doesn’t have any of it even though the veil of racism in the early 1800s. It was a great work of art. So then, let’s talk about the 1985 original The Color Purple.

Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple. Photo credit: Archive Photos / Getty Images/Warner Bros

Set in the early 20th Century follows Celie Harris (Whoopi Goldberg) who has an unshakable bond with her younger sister Nettie (Akosua Busia). One day their abusive father Papa Harris (Leonard Jackson), was approached by the equally abusive Albert ‘Mister’ Johnson (Danny Glover). He is attracted to Nettie, but instead, Papa Harris insists he marry Celie because ‘Mister’ is too attracted to Nettie. As they both stay on Mister’s farm, Celie becomes abused by ‘Mister’, and soon after tried to rape Nettie. He then kicks Nettie off his land, leaving Celie having to deal with ‘Mister’s un-hospitality for years. Celie, however, holds out hope that she can escape Mister’s abusive environment and hopefully reunite with her long-lost sister. 

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Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover in The Color Purple. Photo credit: Warner Bros.

For a story set in the past, it feels like a story that would happen in today’s world. Sexism, racism, and abuse is present in this movie. Goldberg gave a sterling performance to the point where I have to wonder ‘why didn’t she get an Oscar for this role?’. The audience feels for Celie in this sexist, toxic environment she was forced into by her father. We also feel bad when she’s ripped away from her sister by ‘Mister’, and we’d also want her to succeed in being with her sister again. She does have a good rapport with Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) who is also a kind and sympathetic foil to Celie. 

Margaret Avery and Danny Glover in The Color Purple. Photo credit: Warner Bros.

I also feel bad for Oprah Winfrey’s Sofia who also gets beat by Mister’s son, Harpo (Willard Pugh), and later gets beat by the white people after defying a white woman named Miss Millie (Dana Ivey) to be her maid. Winfrey also gave a great performance of having to put up with everyone either ignoring her, abusing her, or being flat-out racist towards her. So that is also a plus.

Oprah Winfrey and Willard E. Pugh in The Color Purple. Photo credit: Warner Bros.

I hated ‘Mister’ and his dad ‘Ol Mister Johnson’ (Adolph Caesar). Glover and Caesar also turned in stellar performances of being a bunch of sexist black men having women who are not pretty or presentable to be the homemakers and using them for their sexual advances. But at the same time to have another woman who is supposed to be pretty and use them too. It is a haunting topic still ongoing today with the # MeToo Movement and the Women’s Movement. So in a sense, this movie was way ahead of its time. And I commend it for it.

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Whoopi Goldberg, Rae Dawn Chong and Margaret Avery in The Color Purple. Photo credit: Getty Images

Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple is an experience that teaches people not become abusive to their spouse. It was surprisingly funnier than I thought it would be. However, it is still hard to see black women get abused by men no matter what color they are. But, it does feel rewarding at the end where we’ve finally achieved the happy ending the movie needed. Now, I’m curious how the recent 2023 film musical adaptation will compare to the original. We’ll find out later. 

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By Julian