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  • Writer's pictureAbrean Smith

"The Color Purple:" the Remake to End All Remakes

The Color Purple is a beloved classic black story that has touched the lives of millions of viewers since its release 1985. It was nominated for 11 oscars at the 58th Academy Awards including best picture, actress, supporting actress (one for Oprah Winfrey and one for Margaret Avery), screenplay, art direction, cinematography, costume design, makeup, original score, and original song, but did not win any category.

With several of the people who originally made this story such a success coming back together as well as some stellar additions to the team, it’s hard to imagine this being a subpar remake. As a fan of the original film, I am excited for this new generation to be exposed to such a powerful black story. Obviously,so much has changed between 1985 and 2023 so it is inevitable that there will be some noticeable changes between the forty year old film and musical adaptation. Here are three distinct changes I hope to see in the 2023 version of The Color Purple.

Backstory:

Based on the novel by the same name by Alice Walker, The Color Purple tells the story of Celie; a young woman who is constantly subjected to abuse throughout her life worsened by her and her sister, Nettie, being separated by her abusive husband Mister. The story follows Celie on her long journey to independence that leads to the sisters’ reunification. Well, this holiday season a remake just might break the hearts of the new generation. December 25th is the release date of the modern take on this classic tale with an added musical element. The cast includes Taraji P. Henson, Fantasia, Halle Bailey and H.E.R. with Fantasia and Danielle Brooks reprising their respective roles from the stage play adaptation. Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey have even agreed to produce this new version of a film they worked together on almost forty years ago.


#1: Exploration of the same sex relationship between Shug and Celie.

During Shug Avery’s first visit to Celie and Mister’s house, Shug develops a deep level of compassion for Celie and the two begin to form a bond. Shug is determined to help Celie with her confidence, telling her she’s beautiful and that she envies her. Though the two share a passionate kiss, their relationship is never explored again. Though Celie continues to pine after Shug throughout the remainder of the film, it seems to be mostly unreciprocated. This is something that Spielberg deeply regrets.


#2: More self confidence from Celie.

Part of what makes The Color Purple such a beautiful story is the drastic transformation Celie makes for the better. She finally gains the courage to leave her abusive husband and become independent. However, this arguably doesn’t show a change in confidence but built up resentment that has finally come to the surface. I’m hoping that Celine’s character in this remake includes a more internal transformation in addition to the lifestyle change.


#3: More definite answer to Mister’s redemption.

Though the original film took the controversial approach giving an abuser a redemption arc, it was not a very clear one. After Celie leaves, Mister is left with nothing and as a result lets himself and his home go. However, he still receives the letters from Nettie who is completely unaware that her sister has left her husband. When he notices that Nettie and her niece and nephew are trying to return to the US, he works hard to aid them in their return. It is unclear exactly why Mister does this and if he feels any remorse for his behavior during his marriage to Celie at all. In addition to this, the audience doesn’t get to see the process he undergoes with the department of immigration so if the intention is to root for him for going through the long and difficult process of bringing the sisters back together it isn’t achieved.

The Color Purple is a touching story for the black community that has a great opportunity to be shared with a new generation. Though remakes don’t have the best reputation, I am excited nonetheless to see one of my favorite movies re-establish itself in the world of cinema and possibly get its flowers this time around. The reboot will release on Christmas of this year and I will be happily seated in the theater.




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