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Baldwin: ‘The Color Purple’ shines bright

Greetings my fellow strong-willed cinephiles of Winchester.

We are faced with challenges and adversity every day in our lives.

Just the fact of being, finding our way or discovering what it all means may cause anxiety for some.

We face challenges be it work, society mores, compliance to rules and internal roadblocks we make for ourselves.

One challenge none of us should ever have to endure is losing our self-worth because of abuse, racism and hate. These are themes which are touched upon in the Oscar-nominated coming-of-age period drama, “The Color Purple” (1985).

“The Color Purple” tells the story of young African-American girl Celie, played by Whoopi “Ghost” Goldberg, living in deep South Georgia during the early 1900s.

Celie grows into a strong-willed woman but faces her share of unfortunate events as she finds inner strength while being victimized or witness to violence, incest, poverty, sexism and racism over a span of 40 years.

During Celie’s growth and self-discovery, she is challenged and guided to her goal by strong companions Shug, portrayed by Margaret “Hell Up in Harlem” Avery and Sofia, portrayed by Oprah “A Wrinkle in Time” Winfrey, as she tries to survive each day being a victim to her evil husband Mister, portrayed by Danny “Lethal Weapon” Glover.

“The Color Purple” was directed by Steven “Jaws” Spielberg with a screenplay by Menno “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” Meyes, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 Alice Walker book of the same title.

It was a change of material for Spielberg as at this time and eight features into his career, he was synonymous with big summer blockbusters or family-friendly film fare rather than the serious and dark subject matter which is addressed in the film.

Though Spielberg toned down strong sexual and violent elements which are found in the novel, he addressed familiar themes of family discord and separation while he always has showed an adoration for outsiders and underdogs in his other films.

“The Color Purple” was a valuable education for Spielberg as he worked outside of his comfort zone regarding the type of material he was accustomed to filming.

The success of “Purple” and growth in character as a filmmaker led Spielberg to later have the confidence and tools to film his most personal serious film, “Shindler’s List” (1993).

The strength of this film is through the strength of the actors who are swimming in a drama full of the nastier elements of life for a runtime of more than two hours. All the performances are top notch and it’s a Spielberg film so it visually almost perfect in all scenes.

Goldberg is credible as Celie and the viewer will have empathy, not sympathy, as she fights adversity and fights through life to find her way and herself.

“The Color Purple” will be presented by Fathom Events and includes exclusive insight from Turner Classic Movies in honor of Black History Month and the film’s 35th anniversary.

Show times are 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Regal in Hamburg and Cinemark Richmond Centre and 5 p.m. at Movie Tavern at Brannon Crossing.

Take care of each other and have a film-tastic day.

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.