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Release Date: 12/25/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Drama. Musical.

Studio: Warner Bros. 

"A decades-spanning tale of love and resilience and of one woman's journey to independence. Celie faces many hardships in her life, but ultimately finds extraordinary strength and hope in the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood." 


Alice Walker’s 1982 novel, The Color Purple, has been adapted into the 1985 Stephen Spielberg-directed movie as well as a successful Broadway musical that first debuted in 2005. This latest movie rendition from director Blitz Bazawule is also a musical, utilizing songs from the Broadway hit show.


The story follows Celie (Fantasia Barrino) and her sister Nettie (Ciara) from childhood through adulthood in Georgia in the early 1900s. Celie must navigate a world fueled by racism, sexism, and the most unfortunate symptoms of the patriarchy as a young woman. She navigates the many hardships and trauma with the support of fellow black women who lift her up with understanding, compassion, and kindness. 


Sprinkled throughout the movie, Bazawule’s musical numbers transport us from rural Georgia to a variety of other whimsical locations. In one such scene, Celie and Shug (Taraji P. Henson), sing together while walking on a massive rotating gramophone. Later on, the two ladies slip away from their reality in a movie theater to find themselves gliding down an art deco imperial staircase in song. These impressive and creative musical sequences are a sharp contrast to Celie’s harsh reality. But instead of feeling out of place, they provide a welcome respite from Celie’s unhappy circumstances as well as a visual interpretation of how she manages to survive and keep her humanity intact. 


While the catchy songs and vivacious dance numbers are a lot of fun, what really makes the movie sing is the all-star cast. Fantasia Barrino (who also played Celie on Broadway) puts in an award-worthy performance as Celie, and somehow manages to effectively portray the full spectrum of human emotions in just two hours and twenty minutes. Taraji P. Henson proves to be the perfect choice for the effervescent and confident Shug Avery, the independent blues singer who befriends Celie. She performs her songs with an energy that is contagious and fills the screen with her magnetic presence when she enters a scene. 


Colman Domingo’s performance as the easy to dislike Mister shows off his range like never before. Domingo easily displays the complexities of a man who is so ingrained in the patriarchal system of control, he loses his way. But the real force in the movie is Danielle Brooks. She plays the mighty Sofia, who challenges the oppressive systems and those in positions of power every chance she gets–even when it’ll cost her dearly. Brooks will make you laugh, sob, and pump your fist into the air, especially during her rendition of the powerful “Hell No.” 


This adaptation of Alice Walker’s powerful novel is entertaining, emotional, and incredibly moving. The songs and dance sequences add a little flair of fun to the story and complement the narrative moments perfectly. But at the core of the movie are the black women who manage to painstakingly carve out beautiful lives for themselves despite the many hurdles that block their path. Many of the obstacles Celie faces are still prevalent for black women today, which is undoubtedly why The Color Purple still feels so essential and impactful nearly 30 years after the original novel was published. In a powerful moment of defiance in the face of someone who is trying their best to discredit her very existence, Celie says it best: “I may be black, but I’m here.”


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