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That selection of music makes the film

‘The Color Purple’: Labor Songs, Blues and Gospel, Music Reflecting the Era and its Discrepancy

2024.2.5

#MOVIE

© 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A Story of Tragedy and Empowerment for African American Women

Let me briefly introduce the plot of the movie.

The first half is set in the early 20th century along the coast of Georgia, USA. Two African American sisters live together, supporting each other despite the fear of violence from their father. Celie, the older sister, becomes pregnant after enduring abuse from her father and gives birth to two children. However, her father takes the newborns away from Celie immediately, separating them.

One day, a man who had been eyeing Celie’s sister Nettie visits their home intending to marry her. Celie’s father, wanting to get rid of her, pushes Celie onto the man. When Celie arrives at the neglected house, she is subjected to the cruelty of the man called “Mr.” Nettie, having escaped the lascivious advances of her father, arrives, but the sisters are forcibly separated after Nettie rejects Mr.’s abuse. Nettie vows to keep writing letters, but Celie is devastated, shedding tears of despair.

However, Nettie’s letters never reach Celie as the years pass. Celie endures the hardships of her husband’s violence and an unbearable life. Then, a group of women comes into her life. One is Sophia, a tough and independent woman, the lover of Celie’s stepson Harpo. Later on, another woman appears – Shug, a blues singer whom Mr. has been infatuated with for a long time.

Living in the abyss of despair, Celie, as she interacts with these proud women and shares her heart with them, gradually begins to harbor a glimmer of hope and the power of resistance within herself. Finally, Celie musters the courage to confront the world that has oppressed her for so long and stands up against it.

In terms of story, the film is generally a fairly straightforward remake of the 1985 film, with no major changes made from the 1985 version. Perhaps this also tells us that Spielberg’s version, which was met with mixed reviews at the time of its release, was a very skillful adaptation of a film of a high standard from today’s perspective. In fact, looking back on it now, Spielberg’s version is even more sensational in terms of the severity of the trauma suffered by Celie and the other women, and the jittery care with which it was portrayed.

On the other hand, many new plots have been added (or altered or deleted) in this latest version, and the overall impression is that more emphasis is placed on overcoming trauma and empowerment than on excessive focus on tragedy. As a result, the film seems to have succeeded in driving the viewer to think in a positive way about how to overcome the historically accumulated problems of patriarchy, discrimination against blacks, and other compounded issues that have long afflicted African American women, namely intersectionality. (On the other hand, it could be criticized that the depiction of such hardships is too loose.)

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