I’m completely late to this party, but maybe Nate will still let me participate. I saw his post yesterday and rushed to rewatch this movie, and I probably should have posted my thoughts last night but it was late and I was tired and I usually like to let these things simmer a while before making a rash decision.
For me, ‘The Color Purple’ is all about hope in the midst of the most atrocious and dire of circumstances. I’ve seen the film a handful of times over the years, and while it is a heavily manipulative film it is also one of those movies I continually forgive the manipulation because it works with the material. It suits it, and Spielberg is actually in rare form here. While he’s consistently manipulative as a director (unless he’s working outside the ‘Oscar’ market) he finds rich tones of humanity here and shows a selective restraint, allowing the material to sing. I’m not sure if this is because he was afraid of the backlash associated with a white director making such a powerful ‘black’ film, but whatever the reason, there is a permeating feeling of honest depth here that I can’t help but appreciate.
When selecting a favorite shot, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads. This film is so rich with visual imagery that finding just one shot was very hard to do. That being said, that constant theme of hope was something I couldn’t shake, and there was one scene in particular that I think encompassed that theme to an overwhelming degree.
The use of light here is essential to the composition of the scene and the conveyance of the hopeful feeling. Coming to us near the end of the film, this shot shows Celie receiving news regarding her dearest Nettie. As she reads the letter and realizes that all is not lost, you can see the hope bursting through the windows as the light floods the rooms. Sure, this technique is manipulation at its finest, but that is the point, it’s at its finest! As the light engulfs the scene, we know that regardless of the hardships she’s endured, the sun truly does come out tomorrow for this beautiful woman.
Yes, I went there with the ‘Annie’ reference, but I couldn’t help it.
So there you have it Nate. I’m late (so sorry) but I didn’t want to miss another week, especially when I love the film so much!