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The Color Purple Reimagining Captures the Beauty and Strength of Black Womanhood

Just time in for the holiday season, Warner Bros. Pictures is releasing a reimaging of the classic eighties film and beloved novel, The Color Purple, for a new generation to experience. Blitz Bazawule directs the movie with a screenplay written by Marcus Gardley. The script combines elements of Brenda Russel's stage musical and Alice Walker's novel. 

Beginning in the early 20th century, The Color Purple introduces us to a young Celie (Phylicia Pearl Mpasi ) and her sister Nettie (Halle Bailey), who have an unbreakable bond. Celie is forced into a marriage with a cruel and abusive man named Mister (Colman Domingo), who also refers to her as "ugly" and treats her as a servant while she raises his kids.

Nettie and Celie soon find themselves separated, and as time passes, Celie becomes an adult woman (Fantasia Barrino). While Mister's oldest son, Harpo (Corey Hawkins), treats Celie with dignity, Mister is still a bastard. Over time, Celie finds solace and support in her relationships with other women, including Harpo's wife Sofia (Danielle Brooks) and a singer named Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson), a former flame of Mister. As the story unfolds and through the power of song, Celie transforms, finding the courage to stand up to the men who have oppressed her and to take control of her own life.

I haven't seen the 1985 film version in decades, but my wife and I got to see an off-Broadway version of the play a few years back, and we were blown away. Blitz Bazawule's visual eye on Black Is King impressed me, and knowing that Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones,and Oprah Winfrey collaborated with stage musical producer Scott Sanders, I went in with high expectations.

After the opening credits ended, I was completely immersed in a world filled with intense emotions, captivating storytelling, and stunning music. Fantasia delivers a remarkable performance that beautifully portrays Celie's transformation from oppression to empowerment. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience.

Oscar Nominee Taraji P. Henson brings a fiery approach to Shug Avery, and Danielle Brooks gives a star-making performance as Sofia. All three are elegant, whether cracking jokes, giving a passionate monologue, or bringing the house down in song. H.E.R., Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, and Halle Bailey were also enjoyable.

Regarding the men in the cast, Colman Domingo is downright evil as Mister and makes the character his own. I wish the script gave Corey Hawkins as Harpo Johnson a bit more meat, but Hawkins has his share of scene-stealing moments and gets to share his singing voice again. Deon Cole, David Allen Grier, and the impalpable Louis Gosset Jr. are also impressive.

Regarding the music, Kris Browers skillfully combines perseverance, affection, and optimism themes. His score celebrates the unyielding strength of the human spirit. The songs are exceptional in their own right, as the moving melodies and poignant lyrics effortlessly capture the essence of the characters' emotional struggles and victories. Each note resonates with the characters' pain, joy, and resilience, taking the storytelling to a new level.

Although it does not aim to surpass the Broadway adaptation or the 1985 film, the 2023 version of The Color Purple provides a transcendent movie-going experience that will leave you profoundly and deeply inspired.

Final Grade: A

The Color Purple opens in theaters on Christmas Day


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