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‘The Color Purple’ is a Cinematic Ode to Women’s Empowerment and Resilience

Photo provided by The MRKT Co

“The Color Purple” musical is set to make its grand transition to the silver screen, promising audiences a visual and auditory feast like never before. With its rich narrative and soul-stirring melodies, the adaptation aims to capture the essence of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, exploring themes of resilience, empowerment and the transformative power of love.

The movie depicts the life of African American woman Celie Harris, played by Fantasia Barrino, in the south in the early 20th century, bravely addressing the terrible realities of domestic abuse. Celie’s experiences serve as an example of the institutionalized oppression that many women endured in that time period, when abuse was not only accepted but frequently went unchecked. From a young age, rape, childbirth and neglect were things Celie experienced. 

The movie illuminates the significant psychological effects of both physical and emotional abuse on a woman’s mind. In a conversation with The Hilltop, movie director Blitz Bazawule said he hopes the movie brings themes of generational trauma to the surface.

“My hope is that it opens up conversations amongst young people to talk about what generational trauma looks like and how trauma that is borrowed and carried on can be destructive,” Bazawule said. 

The director said issues like domestic violence and racial discrimination are issues that have lingered for a long time, but as a Black community never healed from. 

Younger Celie, played by Washington, D.C., native Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, believes that Generation Z will be the ones to break generational traumas like the ones shown in the film.

“I’m so excited for this generation because I feel like y’all get it. You all kind of see what’s happening before it happens and you can stop anyone from suffering and stop the trauma and the hurt we’re inflicting on each other,” Mpasi said in an interview with The Hilltop

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In the movie, Celie transforms from a helpless victim into a strong, self-assured woman. She is shown in the film not just as a survivor, but also as a force that challenges the cultural norms of her day. 

She didn’t get to this point alone. Her connection with other female characters, most notably Shug Avery, played by Taraji P. Henson, and Sofia, played by Danielle Brooks, demonstrate the strength of women banding together to challenge social norms. 

“Howard literally developed my tough skin for Hollywood. And I knew if I could crack Howard, I could crack Hollywood,” Henson said during the interview. 

Henson, a Howard alumna, plays extravagant and scandalous blues singer Shug Avery. Bold, sexy and carefree would describe her character. 

This is Henson’s first time starring in a musical and she said the process wasn’t easy, but neither is Hollywood. Henson credits Howard’s drama program as great preparation for Hollywood and this role. 

“Howard University instilled all the confidence in me that I needed to tackle Hollywood because our program was no joke. If you couldn’t hit that mark and make the person in the back of that theater feel the words that were coming out of your mouth? Next, you would get replaced,” Henson said.

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The variety of women in the story, from Celie, who experiences abuse and oppression, to Sofia, a strong and resilient character who challenges social norms, highlights the complexity of femininity.

Audience member Kyndell Baskin, is a sophomore TV & Film major, African American studies minor from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said that during the movie she felt an influx of emotions and pride to see so many talented Black women on screen.

“I was just so proud and happy the way it came together,” Baskin said. “I feel like seeing the original and loving all of these actors personally and seeing their performances was like a breath of fresh air.” 

“The Color Purple” opens in theaters on Christmas Day. 

Copy edited by Jasper Smith

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