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This day in film: The Color Purple

This day in film: The Color Purple

On December 18th, 1985, The Color Purple was released in the U.S. 

Published December 17, 2008

On December 18th, 1985, The Color Purple was released in the U.S.  The movie would feature an unknown Whoopi Golderg in the starring role of Celie, an already established actor with Danny Glover as Albert/Mister, and a local news anchor named Oprah Winfrey as Sofia.  Directed by Steven Spielberg , The Color Purple was originally met with bad reviews.  Critics bashed Spielberg for straying far from the book and making the film too "soft."  Nonetheless, The Color Purple garnered eleven Oscar nominations and the fans spoke -- this film was a classic.

The Color Purple was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker .  The book dealt with complex issues such as domestic abuse, homosexuality, sexism, and racism. When Walker gave permission to remake the film, she insisted on three things: approval of the script, approval of the director (an already famous Steven Spielberg had to audition for Walker) and that the crew behind the scenes be at least 50% people of color.  All of these requests were met.

Famously, after eleven Oscar nominations, including Goldberg for best actress and Winfrey for best supporting actress -- The Color Purple lost every single Oscar, even down to best makeup.  Spielberg didn't even receive a best director nod.

The Color Purple would gross over 94 million dollars at the box office and was #4 in the yearly rankings for 1985.  The film goes down in history as one of the few films with an African-American cast  and a high production budget. Twenty-three years later, we still haven't seen anything quite like it.

Written by Clay Cane


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