Color Purple More Than Meets The Eye

793 words - 3 pages

The Color Purple - More Than Meets the EyeThe bitter legacy of American race relations - birthed by slavery, worsened by segregation and institutionalized by culture - is not without hope, a radiant sense that, within the collective rage of an entire group's forced servitude, there is also the strength - the heroism and personal triumph, if you will - to stand squarely upon the soil and proclaim, "No more!" Alice Walker, a gifted novelist with a keen appreciation of the black experience, articulates this sense of freedom and its female identity with passion and integrity. "The Color Purple" is thus Walker's declaration of independence: a feminist's interpretation of spiritual identity, love, family and redemption -- an infusion of American optimism for a people and a person too often denied the promise of the law's protection and the respect of mankind's dignity. Combined with Steven Spielberg's interpretative genius, the film version of Walker's novel is a visual testament - a different realization, to be sure - of the South, liberty and simple decency.The most striking difference between Walker's imagery and Spielberg's film adaptation is, like many other projects converted for the cinema, an issue of degree and observational fact. That is, a novel's power rests upon its verbal subtlety and personal communication, the ability to absorb various symbols without overt suggestion or blatant emphasis. Spielberg avoids many of these "mistakes" (or more pedestrian errors) by embracing his own brand of directorial diction -- a cast outfitted with authentic clothing and made to recite Southern drawl with a believability that makes Walker's novel seem more like an extended script than a piece of literature. But the differences between Spielberg's film and Walker's novel deserve closer inspection.Perhaps the film's greatest difference is its cursory examination of Celie's letters, the main character's most powerful form of communication. Yet, the decidedly verbal and non-visual nature of Celie's chosen medium is a bad device for filmgoers, as each word, sentence and paragraph reduces itself to so much fine print. Narration is an alternative, yes; but a letter needs a reader's own distinctive voice for personal impact, not a studio microphone and multiple rehearsals.Also, Walker's novel has a brand of femininity and eroticism the film only superficially addresses. Beyond Celie's discovery of genuine intimacy and a powerful supporting role by Oprah Winfrey, the real sexual energy - neither profane nor gratuitous - originates...

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