The Color Purple | Picturehouse Recommends

This showy spectacle promises a vibrant reinvention of the beloved classic and pitch-perfect adaptation of the Broadway hit.

Larushka Ivan-Zadeh

23 Jan 24

Blitz Bazawule

Release Date
26 January


Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Fantasia Barrino


Running Time
141 mins

For over four decades now, The Color Purple has been a bona fide cultural phenomenon. This latest version of Alice Walker's powerful 1982 novel is a colourful musical take that will put the classic story in a completely new light.

Set in rural Georgia and starting in the early 1900s, The Color Purple tells the sweeping story of Celie, an impoverished African-American woman who is abused by her father and separated from her sister but finds solace and sustenance in two other women, singer Shug Avery and Sofia, a real force of nature. At its heart it's an uplifting tale celebrating triumph over adversity, the dogged tenacity of the human spirit and the power of sisterhood.

Directing this new take is Blitz Bazawule, best known for directing the South African shoot of Beyoncé's visual LP, Black Is King. As a musician and producer of four albums, the filmmaker has a unique mix of musical sensibilities and what producer Oprah Winfrey calls a "unique vision as a director". This makes him a perfect fit for the project, something Bazawule laid out in an initial phone call to Steven Spielberg, the director of the 1985 version who is a producer on the latest film. "I told him, 'We're going to give Celie a big imagination. She is going to see things like a 50-piece orchestra,'" the director told Empire magazine. "He was just like, 'Go make your movie.'"

Working with a script by an African- American playwright, Marcus Gardley, Bazawule has certainly made the story his own. The Ghanaian-born filmmaker has not only brought texture and authenticity to the project but has infused the visuals with a bold, distinctive, magical realist vibe that lifts the curtain on Celie's inner world like never before.

With music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, The Color Purple crosses musical genres from gospel to blues to jazz, the latter informing one of the film's biggest numbers, Push Da Button, performed in a rowdy juke-joint setting.

Additional music is by Oscar-nominated composer Kris Bowers (King Richard), part of a team filled with the cream of Black behind-the-scenes talent, including costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck (One Night In Miami) and choreographer Fatima Robinson (Dreamgirls).

And, of course, there's a new cast. Star of the original Broadway production, Fantasia Barrino (who shot to fame on American Idol) here makes her movie debut as Celie, while Danielle Brooks ("Taystee" in Orange Is The New Black) slips back into her stage role of Sofia.

Newcomers to the ensemble include Taraji P. Henson (as good-time gal Shug), Colman Domingo (as Celie's abusive husband), Corey Hawkins (The Walking Dead) as Harpo and Halle Bailey (The Little Mermaid) as Celie's sister Nettie.

The result promises to be a vibrant reinvention of a beloved narrative, a huge spectacle mixed with moving, intimate drama, full of heartbreak and hope. In short, it's The Color Purple like you've never seen it before   Larushka Ivan-Zadeh

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The Color Purple is in cinemas from 26 Jan Book Now!