‘The Color Purple’ Review: Still Here


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Alissa Wilkinson, The New York Times

There’s a lot to like about this musical film version of Alice Walker’s novel, but the story remains slippery to would-be adapters.

Fantasia Barrino, center, with Taraji P. Henson, left, and Danielle Brooks, right, in “The Color Purple.” (Warner Bros Pictures)

TW: Sexual Assault

Alice Walker’s 1982 novel “The Color Purple” has proved tricky to adapt in a manner that retains the book’s power. Part of the problem is it’s an epistolary novel, a genre that’s effective because what characters hide is as revelatory as what they reveal. But letters are exceptionally tricky to transfer to more visual forms, like theater and film. Voice-over can help, but only to a point.

More challenging, though, is the spare and frank tone that Walker imparts to Celie Harris, the woman at the center of the story, who is poor and Black and living in turn-of-the-century Georgia. She writes to God starting in her youth, during which she’s repeatedly [sexually assaulted] by the man she believes to be her father, bears two children only to have them taken from her and is forced into a marriage with an abusive man who effectively sees her only as a household slave.

The arc of the story is Celie’s journey toward self-realization and freedom, a theme that pops up across Walker’s work and embodies her perspective on Black women’s liberation, which is as much about race as gender. Last year, she told The New York Times that the term “womanist,” which she coined, is meant not to oppose feminism but to extend it: “It is crucial for Black women to hold on to this very special tradition that we have, exemplified by Harriet Tubman, where you free yourself and you go back and you free other people.”

Read the rest of the review in the original article.

Learn about a play also written to bring light to Black women’s experiences in this Breaking News article.

Find even more Breaking News here.

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