The Color Purple


2h 34m 1985
The Color Purple

Brief Synopsis

A young African-American woman fights for independence during the early years of the 20th century.

Film Details

Also Known As
Color Purple, Purpurfärgen, color púrpura, El, couleur pourpre
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1985
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD); Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Location
North Carolina, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 34m

Synopsis

Epic drama of an African-American woman's struggle to overcome poverty, adversity, and a marriage to brutal husband and eventually find her dignity in a period that spans over forty years from the turn-of-the-century.

Crew

Julie Adams

Dialect Coach

Richard Alonzo

Makeup

Kokayi Ampah

Location Manager

Richard L Anderson

Sound Editor

Lillian Armstrong

Song

Louis Armstrong

Song Performer

Tom Bahler

Music Supervisor

Brian Banks

Music

Craig Bassett

Assistant Editor

Michael J. Benavente

Sound Editor

Else Blangsted

Music Editor

Chris Boardwell

Music

Chris Boardwell

Original Music

Bruce Botnick

Sound

Alex Brown

Stunt Man

Ken Burton

Projectionist

Willie Burton

Sound

Henry Busse

Song

Jorge Calandrelli

Original Music

Jorge Calandrelli

Music

Ken Chase

Makeup

James Christopher

Sound Editor

Dave Clark

Researcher

Jeffrey R Coates

Production Associate

Andrae Crouch

Music Conductor

Andrae Crouch

Music Arranger

Andrae Crouch

Song

Sandra Crouch

Music Arranger

Sandra Crouch

Music Conductor

Sandra Crouch

Song

Allen Daviau

Dp/Cinematographer

Allen Daviau

Director Of Photography

Lew Davis

Song

David Del Sesto

Song

Linda Descenna

Set Decorator

Don Digirolamo

Sound

Tommy Dorsey

Song

Dean Drabin

Sound

Nigel Dundas

Location Manager

Nigel Dundas

Animal Services

Teresa Echton

Sound Editor

Teresa Eckton

Sound Editor

Gregg Elam

Stunt Coordinator

William Eric Engler

Camera Operator

Frank Eyton

Song

William Ferris

Researcher

Jim Flamberg

Music Editor

Roy Gaines

Song

Humberto Gatica

Sound

Robert W Glass

Sound

Porter Grainger

Song

Johnny Green

Song

Peter Guber

Executive Producer

Barbara Harley

Other

Jimmy Haskell

Music

Jimmy Haskell

Original Music

Jack Hayes

Original Music

Jack Hayes

Music

Dick Hazard

Original Music

Dick Hazard

Music

Jerry Hey

Original Music

Jerry Hey

Music

Edward Heyman

Song

Robin Hollister

Production Associate

Dorothy Hungerford

Production Associate

James Ingram

Song

Carole Isenberg

Associate Producer

Francine Jamison-tanchuck

Costume Supervisor

John C Johnson

Production

Joanna Johnston

Wardrobe

Quincy Jones

Producer

Quincy Jones

Song

Quincy Jones

Music

Michael Kahn

Editor

Pat Kehoe

Assistant Director

Kathleen Kennedy

Producer

Randy Kerber

Music

Randy Kerber

Original Music

Buzz Knudson

Sound

Tom Kramer

Music Editor

Henry Lange

Song

Norman Langley

Camera Operator

Steve Laporte

Makeup

Michael Laudati

Makeup

Rebecca Leventhal

Production Associate

Jeremy Lubbock

Song

Anthony Marinelli

Music

David Marshall

Music Editor

Frank Marshall

Producer

Mark Marshall

Production Associate

Harvey Mason

Music

Harvey Mason

Original Music

Bill Maxwell

Song

Letta Mbulu

Song Performer

Tom Mccown

On-Set Dresser

Greig Mcritchie

Music

Greig Mcritchie

Original Music

Menno Meyjes

Screenplay

Menno Meyjes

Song

Gerald R Molen

Unit Production Manager

Sarah Monat

Foley

Joseph Nemec

Art Assistant

Sam Nestico

Music

Sam Nestico

Original Music

Alan Nineberg

Adr Editor

Rufus Perryman

Song

Jon Peters

Executive Producer

Richard Pryor

Production Associate

Bonne Radford

Production Associate

Virginia Randolph-weaver

Set Designer

Arthur Repola

Post-Production Supervisor

Lionel Richie

Song

J. Michael Riva

Production Designer

Aggie Guerard Rodgers

Costume Designer

Joel Rosenbaum

Original Music

Joel Rosenbaum

Music

Marshal Royal

Researcher

Monty Ruben

Production Consultant

Lata Ryan

Production Coordinator

Nathan Scott

Original Music

Nathan Scott

Music

Caiphus Semenya

Song

George Sims

Researcher

Larry Singer

Adr Editor

John W Singleton

Foley Editor

Betty Jean Slater

Set Costumer

Phil Smith

Wrangler

Robert Sour

Song

Steven Spielberg

Producer

Donald F Spinney

Animal Trainer

Edward Steidele

Foley

Fred Steiner

Music

Fred Steiner

Original Music

Bill Summers

Music

Bill Summers

Original Music

Matt Sweeney

Special Effects Supervisor

Steven Talmy

Production Associate

Rod Temperton

Song

Saunders Sonny Terry

Song

Claude Thompson

Choreographer

Bill Tiegs

Set Costumer

Simon Trevor

Camera Operator

Don Vargas

Costume Supervisor

Tata Vega

Music

Edward S Verreaux

Production

Alice Walker

Consultant

Alice Walker

Source Material (From Novel)

Sherman Waze

Sound Editor

Burt Weinstein

Sound Editor

Bo Welch

Art Director

Richard Alexander Wells

Assistant Director

J R Westen

Adr

Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra

Song Performer

David A. Whittaker

Sound Editor

David Williams

Foley Editor

J Mayo Williams

Song

Vincent Winter

Production Supervisor

Snooky Young

Researcher

Film Details

Also Known As
Color Purple, Purpurfärgen, color púrpura, El, couleur pourpre
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1985
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD); Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Location
North Carolina, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 34m

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1985
Whoopi Goldberg

Best Adapted Screenplay

1985

Best Art Direction

1985

Best Cinematography

1985

Best Costume Design

1985
Aggie Guerard Rodgers

Best Makeup

1985

Best Picture

1985

Best Score

1985

Best Song

1985

Best Supporting Actress

1985
Margaret Avery

Best Supporting Actress

1985
Oprah Winfrey

Articles

The Color Purple


Racism, male chauvinism, incest, and domestic violence - all present in The Color Purple (1985) - were not typical Steven Spielberg themes in the mid 1980s. His recent directorial hits included Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and E.T. (1982). So Spielberg was definitely an unexpected choice to direct the screen adaptation of Alice Walker's novel. But after Amblin Entertainment partner Kathleen Kennedy handed him the novel to read, he knew it was the next challenge he wanted to tackle.

The film begins in 1909 when a teenaged Celie gives birth to two children and is married off to Albert. He despises Celie and actually wants her sister, Nettie, but the latter wants nothing to do with him. As an adult, Celie lives a life of servitude and abuse with Albert. She attempts to communicate with her sister through letters, but Albert intercepts Nettie's replies and deprives Celie's life of any human affection. She eventually meets the strong-headed Sofia who marries Albert's son from a previous marriage. Celie also befriends Albert's mistress, Shug, who inspires Celie to stand up to her husband and leave to find a life of her own.

Casting for the film brought two talented newcomers to the screen. Whoopi Goldberg was a well-known comedian at the time. She had read the novel and felt such a personal connection to it that she wrote Alice Walker requesting the role of Sofia. Walker saw her one-woman show in San Francisco and thought she would be perfect - for the role of Celie. Then, Spielberg invited Goldberg to perform a private show for him and some friends. To Goldberg's surprise, his screening room in his office complex on Universal's back lot was absolutely packed with people, including Walker, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Richie. Spielberg loved the act, including a parody of E.T., and asked her to play Celie even though she had her heart set on Sofia.

Tina Turner was strongly considered for the part of Sofia, but turned it down. Instead, the role went to a local TV talk-show host recommended by Quincy Jones. He was in a Chicago hotel room when he saw Oprah Winfrey on her TV show, AM Chicago. He immediately saw Winfrey as the stout, proud, no-nonsense Sofia. Her debut in this film helped catapult her to the national TV superstar status she enjoys today. Winfrey was apprehensive about her first movie role and felt a little intimidated by the director. And she did have some difficulty with a scene which required her to cry on cue, but quickly adapted to film acting and gave a natural performance.

In a key scene where Celie asserts her independence from Albert, after years of silence and humility, Sofia begins to quietly laugh. She was only supposed to have one line, but ended up improvising the scene. Winfrey told Thomas Morgan of The New York Times, "I remember having sat there for three days of shooting, rocking at the table. Mine was the last angle to be shot. I had been sitting there watching everybody else. I had a lot of time to think about the years Sofia spent in jail, and the thousands of women and men, all the people who marched in Selma, who were thrown in jail and what those years must have been like. Sofia finally speaking was a victory for all of us, and for me." Her improvised speech became one of the most memorable moments in the film.

Many critics immediately questioned what was a white male doing directing a passionately feminist story of a black woman in the Deep South. Some said it was a calculated attempt to win an Academy Awar®. Others believed he was seeking greater respect by making a mature film from a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. In the biography Adult Truths by Joseph McBride, Spielberg himself explained that he wanted to "challenge [himself] with something that was not stereotypically a Spielberg movie. Not to try to prove anything, or to show off - just to try to use a different set of muscles."

Even Alice Walker had her doubts. When Spielberg was first proposed as director, she confessed that she was not familiar with his name and requested an interview with him. For the first time in eleven years, Spielberg had to pass an interview to direct a film. He visited her home in San Francisco with Quincy Jones and ultimately impressed the author. According to McBride's Adult Truths, Walker explained in her journal, "Quincy had talked so positively about him I was almost dreading his appearance - but then, after a moment of near, I don't know what, uneasiness, he came in and sat down and started right in showing how closely he had read the book. And making really intelligent comments." He had an "absolute grasp of the essentials of the book, the feeling, the spirit."

Despite Walker's approval, several groups adamantly contested the film when it went into release. One of the most vocal oppositions came from the Coalition Against Black Exploitation. This twenty-member group based in Los Angeles boycotted the film and organized picket lines outside theaters where it was being shown. The coalition accused the film of degrading black men, black children, and black families. The NAACP's Hollywood branch also asserted a similar protest. Many feminist groups, including Alice Walker herself, later criticized the film for downplaying the novel's lesbian themes as well as leaving out some of the more disturbing elements of the plot, such as Celie's molestation by her father in the beginning of the book.

Winfrey defended Spielberg to Lou Cedrone of The Baltimore Evening Sun declaring, "Spielberg said he couldn't include every incident, and that if he had, the film would've been too depressing. As it is, it's a joyous picture, a triumphant one. The essence and spirit of the book are there and that's most important." Winfrey also criticized those who claimed the film portrayed black males in a negative light. According to George Mair's biography Oprah Winfrey: The Real Story, Winfrey retorted, "The movie was not for or against men. It's egotistical and macho for men to even think it's about them. The Color Purple is a novel about women. If this film is going to raise issues, I'm tired of hearing about what it's doing to black men. Let's talk about the issues of wife abuse, violence against women, and sexual abuse of children in the home."

Most of the film's reviews, however, were very positive. Many critics put it on their top ten lists for 1985. It also received 11 Academy Award® nominations, famously winning none of them, including Best Actress for Goldberg and Best Supporting Actress for Winfrey and Margaret Avery. The film was nominated for Best Picture and also received nominations for its screenplay, cinematography, makeup, costumes, art direction, score, and original song. A nomination for Spielberg's direction, however, was shamelessly missing. He did not respond to the situation until after he won an award from the Directors Guild of America for the film. Only twice before had the DGA winner not won the Oscar® as well. After accepting the award, he told the press backstage, "Certainly anyone would feel hurt to be left out of a category of richly deserved nominations, but I'm not bitter or angry about it." Warner Bros. did not take the snub as well. The production studio issued a statement congratulating the nominees but adding, "At the same time, the company is shocked and dismayed that the movie's primary creative force - Steven Spielberg - was not recognized."

Despite all the controversy, audiences all over the world embraced The Color Purple. It grossed over $142 million at the box office worldwide with a production cost of only $15 million, setting it among the top grossing films of the year.

Producer: Peter Guber, Quincy Jones, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Jon Peters, Steven Spielberg
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Menno Meyjes, Alice Walker (novel)
Cinematography: Allen Daviau
Film Editing: Michael Kahn
Art Direction: Robert W. Welch
Music: Quincy Jones, Andrae Crouch, Jeremy Lubbock, Caiphus Semenya, Rod Temperton
Cast: Danny Glover (Albert), Whoopi Goldberg (Celie), Margaret Avery (Shug Avery), Oprah Winfrey (Sofia), Willard E. Pugh (Harpo), Akosua Busia (Nettie).
C-152m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by E. Lacey Rice
The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Racism, male chauvinism, incest, and domestic violence - all present in The Color Purple (1985) - were not typical Steven Spielberg themes in the mid 1980s. His recent directorial hits included Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and E.T. (1982). So Spielberg was definitely an unexpected choice to direct the screen adaptation of Alice Walker's novel. But after Amblin Entertainment partner Kathleen Kennedy handed him the novel to read, he knew it was the next challenge he wanted to tackle. The film begins in 1909 when a teenaged Celie gives birth to two children and is married off to Albert. He despises Celie and actually wants her sister, Nettie, but the latter wants nothing to do with him. As an adult, Celie lives a life of servitude and abuse with Albert. She attempts to communicate with her sister through letters, but Albert intercepts Nettie's replies and deprives Celie's life of any human affection. She eventually meets the strong-headed Sofia who marries Albert's son from a previous marriage. Celie also befriends Albert's mistress, Shug, who inspires Celie to stand up to her husband and leave to find a life of her own. Casting for the film brought two talented newcomers to the screen. Whoopi Goldberg was a well-known comedian at the time. She had read the novel and felt such a personal connection to it that she wrote Alice Walker requesting the role of Sofia. Walker saw her one-woman show in San Francisco and thought she would be perfect - for the role of Celie. Then, Spielberg invited Goldberg to perform a private show for him and some friends. To Goldberg's surprise, his screening room in his office complex on Universal's back lot was absolutely packed with people, including Walker, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Richie. Spielberg loved the act, including a parody of E.T., and asked her to play Celie even though she had her heart set on Sofia. Tina Turner was strongly considered for the part of Sofia, but turned it down. Instead, the role went to a local TV talk-show host recommended by Quincy Jones. He was in a Chicago hotel room when he saw Oprah Winfrey on her TV show, AM Chicago. He immediately saw Winfrey as the stout, proud, no-nonsense Sofia. Her debut in this film helped catapult her to the national TV superstar status she enjoys today. Winfrey was apprehensive about her first movie role and felt a little intimidated by the director. And she did have some difficulty with a scene which required her to cry on cue, but quickly adapted to film acting and gave a natural performance. In a key scene where Celie asserts her independence from Albert, after years of silence and humility, Sofia begins to quietly laugh. She was only supposed to have one line, but ended up improvising the scene. Winfrey told Thomas Morgan of The New York Times, "I remember having sat there for three days of shooting, rocking at the table. Mine was the last angle to be shot. I had been sitting there watching everybody else. I had a lot of time to think about the years Sofia spent in jail, and the thousands of women and men, all the people who marched in Selma, who were thrown in jail and what those years must have been like. Sofia finally speaking was a victory for all of us, and for me." Her improvised speech became one of the most memorable moments in the film. Many critics immediately questioned what was a white male doing directing a passionately feminist story of a black woman in the Deep South. Some said it was a calculated attempt to win an Academy Awar®. Others believed he was seeking greater respect by making a mature film from a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. In the biography Adult Truths by Joseph McBride, Spielberg himself explained that he wanted to "challenge [himself] with something that was not stereotypically a Spielberg movie. Not to try to prove anything, or to show off - just to try to use a different set of muscles." Even Alice Walker had her doubts. When Spielberg was first proposed as director, she confessed that she was not familiar with his name and requested an interview with him. For the first time in eleven years, Spielberg had to pass an interview to direct a film. He visited her home in San Francisco with Quincy Jones and ultimately impressed the author. According to McBride's Adult Truths, Walker explained in her journal, "Quincy had talked so positively about him I was almost dreading his appearance - but then, after a moment of near, I don't know what, uneasiness, he came in and sat down and started right in showing how closely he had read the book. And making really intelligent comments." He had an "absolute grasp of the essentials of the book, the feeling, the spirit." Despite Walker's approval, several groups adamantly contested the film when it went into release. One of the most vocal oppositions came from the Coalition Against Black Exploitation. This twenty-member group based in Los Angeles boycotted the film and organized picket lines outside theaters where it was being shown. The coalition accused the film of degrading black men, black children, and black families. The NAACP's Hollywood branch also asserted a similar protest. Many feminist groups, including Alice Walker herself, later criticized the film for downplaying the novel's lesbian themes as well as leaving out some of the more disturbing elements of the plot, such as Celie's molestation by her father in the beginning of the book. Winfrey defended Spielberg to Lou Cedrone of The Baltimore Evening Sun declaring, "Spielberg said he couldn't include every incident, and that if he had, the film would've been too depressing. As it is, it's a joyous picture, a triumphant one. The essence and spirit of the book are there and that's most important." Winfrey also criticized those who claimed the film portrayed black males in a negative light. According to George Mair's biography Oprah Winfrey: The Real Story, Winfrey retorted, "The movie was not for or against men. It's egotistical and macho for men to even think it's about them. The Color Purple is a novel about women. If this film is going to raise issues, I'm tired of hearing about what it's doing to black men. Let's talk about the issues of wife abuse, violence against women, and sexual abuse of children in the home." Most of the film's reviews, however, were very positive. Many critics put it on their top ten lists for 1985. It also received 11 Academy Award® nominations, famously winning none of them, including Best Actress for Goldberg and Best Supporting Actress for Winfrey and Margaret Avery. The film was nominated for Best Picture and also received nominations for its screenplay, cinematography, makeup, costumes, art direction, score, and original song. A nomination for Spielberg's direction, however, was shamelessly missing. He did not respond to the situation until after he won an award from the Directors Guild of America for the film. Only twice before had the DGA winner not won the Oscar® as well. After accepting the award, he told the press backstage, "Certainly anyone would feel hurt to be left out of a category of richly deserved nominations, but I'm not bitter or angry about it." Warner Bros. did not take the snub as well. The production studio issued a statement congratulating the nominees but adding, "At the same time, the company is shocked and dismayed that the movie's primary creative force - Steven Spielberg - was not recognized." Despite all the controversy, audiences all over the world embraced The Color Purple. It grossed over $142 million at the box office worldwide with a production cost of only $15 million, setting it among the top grossing films of the year. Producer: Peter Guber, Quincy Jones, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Jon Peters, Steven Spielberg Director: Steven Spielberg Screenplay: Menno Meyjes, Alice Walker (novel) Cinematography: Allen Daviau Film Editing: Michael Kahn Art Direction: Robert W. Welch Music: Quincy Jones, Andrae Crouch, Jeremy Lubbock, Caiphus Semenya, Rod Temperton Cast: Danny Glover (Albert), Whoopi Goldberg (Celie), Margaret Avery (Shug Avery), Oprah Winfrey (Sofia), Willard E. Pugh (Harpo), Akosua Busia (Nettie). C-152m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by E. Lacey Rice

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Steven Spielberg was honored for outstanding directorial achievement by the Directors Guild of America, but failed to be nominated for Best Director in the Oscars.

Released in United States Winter December 18, 1985

Released in United States December 16, 1985

Released in United States June 2010

Shown at Los Angeles Film Festival (Quincy Jones Presents) June 17-27, 2010.

Released in USA on video.

Began shooting June 5, 1985.

Released in United States Winter December 18, 1985

Released in United States December 16, 1985 (American Premiere in Los Angeles December 16, 1985.)

Released in United States June 2010 (Shown at Los Angeles Film Festival (Quincy Jones Presents) June 17-27, 2010.)

Voted Best Picture and Best Actress (Goldberg) by the 1985 National Board of Review.