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The Color Purple

Novel reimagined as musical in 2023
Warner Bros.
Young Celie (Phylicia Pearl Mpasi) and Nettie (Halle Bailey) in The Color Purple.

On Dec. 25, 2023, the movie “The Color Purple” was released in theaters across the nation. Directed by Blitz Bazawule, the film was a reimagination of the novel by Alice Walker and 1985 film; but with a musical twist.

The 2023 movie is filled with many notable Black actors, actresses, singers, and public figures. Celie, played by Fantasia Barrino, got the job through her accolades: such as winning the third season of American Idol and portraying Celie on the Broadway edition of “The Color Purple”. Taraji P Henson, who portrays the character of Shug Avery, is most recognized for her roles in Empire and Hidden Figures. For these roles she’s received numerous awards and nominations, at shows such as Golden Globes and academy awards. 

In his creative interpretation, Bazawule breathed a new life into the film that brought to life the plights and struggles of the characters; but added song, dance, and beautiful settings to make the film less heavy than its predecessor. 

The beginning of the movie immediately pushes us toward the core of the story, as Celie sees her daughter, Olivia, at her Pa’s store. Pa catches Celie not keeping up with her chores and sends her outside. From there, the audience is thrown into Pearl Mpasi’s, “She Be Mine,” married with powerful and evocative choreography. 

The music and dance brings to life Celie’s hardships and how she overcomes them in a way that acting cannot. In Taraji P Henson’s “Push Da Button,” and her duet with Fantasia Barrino, “What About Love?,”  the audience watches as Celie finds a spark with Shug Avery and rediscovers the beauty of love and life.

Besides the obvious differences between the movies, like the music and dancing, there are subtle differences between the two films that audiences saw.

In Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film, the movie’s narrations are based on the epistolary style of Walker’s novel, in which Celie’s chapters are written as letters addressed to God. It was written this way to keep a connection and to stay accurate to the original novel, however the 2023 film does not feature this narration style.

Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the original 1985 cast, made an appearance for a small role in the 2023 film. An addition to the revamped story, Goldberg appears as Celie’s midwife, which was not a piece of the original movie’s storyline. This was a particularly powerful moment, as Goldberg’s first cinematic role was as Celie; a role that jumpstarted her professional career. 

Overall, the movie was an excellent rendition of the original film and novel, as It provided an extra medium that supported and uplifted Celie’s journey. The movie is powerful, inspiring, and welcoming to all audiences.

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About the Contributor
Kamryn Jean
Kamryn Jean, Opinion Editor
As a senior and third-year member of publications, Kamryn Jean is excited to be the Opinion Editor. If she’s not at dance practice or reading an assignment for one of her classes, you can find her lost in a song. Jean is a dancer both in and outside of school. She is the Senior Captain for the Texas HighSteppers and a member of Joni’s Elite Dance Team. She is currently preparing herself for college, and plans to get involved in even more activities in school.

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