The Color Purple

The Color Purple is like medicine to me. It’s medicine that I discovered by accident when I was about 11 years old. I was off school with a reoccurring illness that seemed to happen especially on Tuesdays when I had Double Maths and Games. As soon as my parents left for work (obviously kids would never be left alone now!)  I would hop out of bed, set up my room as “a writer would” and then take out my epic novel (How New York Became) and begin writing. After a while the packet of chocolate digestives in the kitchen cupboard would call, so I’d go down and have a few. Then I would wander into the lounge, over to the video shelf and select one to watch … 

My discovery of The Color Purple was kind of inevitable. I had worked my way along most of the video shelf (horror films, weird sci fi and romantic comedies included) before I came to it.  But once I discovered The Color Purple, I stopped watching the others. The storyline gripped me; the music; the characters. I longed for Africa like Celie. I dreamed of Oliva and Adam. My heart sung when Shug Avery sang. I triumphed alongside Sophia as she thwaked the mayor in the face. I cried and cried when she was reunited with her children eight years later. That film sculpted my soul.

The Color Purple

When I grew older, I read Alice Walker’s book and began to understand the deeper implications of the story; the three main female characters and their fight for equality and freedom. Shug  – the free “fallen” woman, bursting with life, vibrancy and sexuality – and her conflict with her father/the church. Sophia – the strong, abundant, self reliant fighter who stands up against the men in her life but is beaten down by the “white man’s dominance”. Celie – her victimisation that gradually turns into empowerment as she stops talking to a male God and addresses her thoughts to her sister instead. The Color Purple speaks deep truths about the duality and imbalance between man and woman / white and black / strength and weakness. Multidimensional and richly textured, it is a masterpiece.

I hadn’t watched the film since I left home. Then, the other day I found a copy of the DVD and bought it. For several weeks it has sat on my side, waiting to be watched – until last night when I returned home from work feeling zonked. Yes I had a million things still to do. Yes, I had a presentation to prepare (for today). Yes there were children to be looked after, a house to be tidied, washing to be done. But the medicine of The Color Purple won out. With the children safely in bed and tea made, I wrapped myself in my most favourite, unflattering but snug-as-a-bug dressing gown and pressed PLAY on the remote control.

The music started. The field of purple flowers blurred into clarity … And then there I was, longing for Africa … Dreaming of lost loves … Ringing out with joy as Shug sung “The Miss Celie Blues” and “God Is Trying To Tell You Something”.  I felt the universal truths rub away my weariness.  The medicine still worked.

Click here to see my all time favourite scene from this incredible film.

Recommended Posts
Contact Bethan

If you'd like to know more or request a call back, please email Bethan here.