Enough about Herzog. Today I watched The Color Purple, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1985. I read the book my senior year of high school, and I really liked it. I never saw the movie, though. Ebert mentions it has some meh parts - like how negatively it portrays all of the black men in the film. The movie, though, is not a big statement about how all people act. It's just one story, one person's life story, and I think in that respect it works really well.
The movie is about Celie, a poor black woman who is abused at the hands of everyone around her. Her father rapes her, and she has two children by him. He marries her off to an abusive husband, who she knows only as Mister. He beats her and treats her like his personal servant. He is not in love with her, however. He loves Shug Avery, a singer. Shug forms a close bond with Celie, and helps her to discover her inner strength and spirit. There are many other subplots, such as the sad tale of Sofia, who is the only woman to ever stand up for herself and suffers greatly for it. There are flaws, such as the one's that Ebert point's out. But as he also points out, this is Celie's story. It's not "conditions in the 1930's", it's just her personal story. The characters that she is surrounded by all contribute to her growing and eventual blossoming.
It's hard to not be moved by the story, with or without it's flaws. There is something so satisfying as we watch Celie find herself, even though she has suffered. I know many people who can relate to things she goes through in the movie. It can be tough to watch, but I liked the sort of hope that the movie inspired. Celie was not "a better, stronger person" or something like that after her experiences. She still was clearly scarred by what happened to her, but she still found herself. She was changed, but still strong. Different, but powerful. I love that sort of message. I guess it's more realistic to me, and it made it more satisfying.
I could see the issues that Ebert points out, but I couldn't help but be totally captured by and moved by this film. I was near tears at many moments, because somehow, I could relate to these characters. As Ebert writes, "When a movie character is really working, we become that character. That's what the movies offer: Escapism into lives other than our own. I am not female, I am not black, I am not Celie, but for a time during "The Color Purple," my mind deceives me that I am all of those things, and as I empathize with her struggle and victory I learn something about what it must have been like to be her" (Great Movies II, 112). The movie just works so well, it's almost impossible to not care about Celie's story, or the stories of the other characters that her life touches.
I know a lot of people have seen this movie, but its great, and well worth watching. I'm keeping this short due to all of the excitment and etc. surroudning the current news, I'm sure you understand!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on The Color Purple
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