I was ten when I first viewed the film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey. And, like the fact that Liesl’s virile, rosy-cheeked boyfriend, Rolf in the Sound of Music was actually a card-carrying Nazi, the complex thematic nature of The Color Purple went just a tad over my head.
Still, something about the spiritual undertones (or perhaps overtones) that permeated the film appealed to me. I was moved by the characters’ struggles, and got lost in the ethereally spooky cinematography. I had no clue what I was watching, but I felt drawn to it, and viewed it many times over. One thing I could never understand, however, was the title. The color purple? What does this story have to do with…purple things? I couldn’t comprehend it. No one I asked could give me a straight answer.
And then four years ago I read the book. When I came across the following line, it all clicked into place:
In a letter to her sister Nettie, Celie describes a conversation she and Shug had about God.
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it” (Walker, 197).
The quote may have been expressed in the film; I honestly don’t remember. But it was the book…the words on the page…that brought it to life for me. I understood at once. How many natural elements in this world are purple? I’ve put this thought into practice. I notice a hearty bunch of daisies, a stark red cardinal in the midst of sparrows, a pond full of multicolored koi. It seems like a trite concept, but something about the way Walker puts it just knocks it dead. Brings it home. Maybe all we actually have to do is notice. Really notice.
10 responses to “Old School Sundays: Alice Walker’s The Color Purple”
We seem to have similar tastes in movies and books. LOL. BTW, The Sound of Music is my favorite musical. The Color Purple….one of my favorite movies/books. 🙂
Both fantastic stories…makes me think of my childhood 🙂
Yes!! My mother is the one that introduced me to The Sound of Music. Such a beautiful story!! The Color Purple I didn’t quite understand until I got older. LOL
Great book selection. I remember watching it as a little girl and being frightened but appreciative. It’s an amazing story of the resilience of women and love that endures.
Nicely put. You said it perfectly. It runs so deep
I first read the book and saw the movie years later. I too was drawn to the spiritual quality of the book, how even through the painful periods of her life, there was a spiritual resiliency about her, and her intense appreciation of beauty, color, was one aspect of that. Thanks for reminding me of a book and a spirit I still admire.
Yes, I agree. I love stories where the characters completely unravel, but still manage to persevere out of sheer will. To me, that’s what The Color Purple represents.
The film and the book are favorites. Shug Avery does say it in the film, toward the end, when she and Celie are walking through the field. I remember it because it was such a beautiful scene. So many wonderful character shifts, from powerlessness to power and vice versa. Love it!
Yes! Now I remember the scene. It WAS very beautiful. I guess I was so young at the time I watched it, the comment went over my head. I still remember the power of it though. That is hard to forget.
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