Blu-Ray Review: Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Color Purple’ Gets HD Upgrade

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CHICAGO – Alice Walker’s novel “The Color Purple” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 and became a highly-acclaimed film just two years later from what was then-seen as an unlikely directorial choice in Steven Spielberg. Despite the controversy, the film went on to be nominated for a stunning eleven Academy Awards and is now one of the first Spielberg works to get the HD upgrade. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

Known solely for blockbusters like “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Steven Spielberg seemed like an unusual (and, in some circles, downright insulting) choice to adapt the acclaimed Walker novel about the life of an African American woman in the early 1900s. The film was met with almost widespread critical acclaim, garnering Spielberg a DGA Award for Best Director and a stunning 11 Academy Award nominations, although controversy would greet it again when it would win none of those nominations, causing some to claim the Academy was racist.

The Color Purple was released on Blu-Ray on January 25th, 2011
The Color Purple was released on Blu-Ray on January 25th, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Watching “The Color Purple” twenty-five years after it was first released has an interesting time capsule effect. It’s impossible to ignore what the people involved would go on to accomplish in the years that would follow. It’s hard to watch Oprah Winfrey’s excellent debut and not think of “Oprah” or to consider that Whoopi Goldberg is now a talk show host as well. And it’s interesting to see Spielberg developing his tools as a storyteller. Now, it would be unsurprising to hear that one of history’s best directors is helming anything he wants but he was still the “E.T.” guy back then.

As conversation turns to “The King’s Speech” vs. “The Social Network” for this year’s Oscars, one wonders how history will look at those two films. The last month has seen the release of several past Oscar powerhouses on Blu-ray, including “Dances With Wolves,” “Raging Bull,” and “Broadcast News” (and “All About Eve,” “Network,” and “All the President’s Men” are coming soon). “The Color Purple” is far from my favorite film of this wave of Academy Award juggernauts but it’s an important part of the history of ’80s cinema that deserves its place on HD, especially with a transfer as nice as Warner Bros. commonly delivers (along with their very handsome book-esque cases for their notable catalog titles).

Synopsis: “Color it fuller, color it richer, color it even more of an enthralling movie experience: in Hi-Def Blu-Ray, The Color Purple shines anew. Celie. Mr.Sofia. Nettie. Shug. The unforgettable characters of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize novel brighten the screen in this rhapsodically cinematic adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. At the story’s center is Celie (Whoopi Goldberg in her movie debut), whose search for fulfillment in a world closed to her becomes a triumph of cruelty overcome by love, of pain eclipsed by joy. Acting and filmmaking honors all came to The Color Purple. But its greatest honor is the lasting embrace of movie fans everywhere.”

Special Features:
o Conversations with the Ancestors: The Color Purple from Book to Screen
o A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple
o The Color Purple: The Musical
o Cultivating a Classic: The Making of The Color Purple
o Behind-the-Scenes and Cast-Focused Featurette Galleries
o Theatrical Trailers

“The Color Purple” stars Danny Glover, Adolph Caesar, Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong, Oprah Winfrey, and Whoopi Goldberg. It was written by Menno Meyjes and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was released on Blu-ray on January 25th, 2011. It is rated PG-13 and runs 154 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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