Critique of the Movie the Color PurpleAlice Walker’s novel "The Color Purple" won Pulitzer Prize 20 years ago. It vividly portrayed the hardships African-American women faced in rural Georgia during the early 20th century. Steven Spielberg had to face a lot of issues whiling filming Alice Walker's The Color Purple. The most common problem which directors usually have while making a movie based on an novel is it’s length. Walker's long novels had enough pages and detail to make a whole mini series. Even after many American episodes were cut short and the African section was cut extremely short, the movie was still two hours long.
However, Spielberg did make mistakes, he added a useless subplot, i.e. the story of Shug's separation from, and then the compromise with, her father. Such modification might have been expected in any film designed for a mainstream audience. Walker's 1982 novel may have attained the literary imprimatur of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, but its celebration of a lesbian relationship, its unorthodox religious views, and its portrayal of whites routinely abusing blacks and men routinely abusing women were hardly calculated to recommend it to a popular readership.
Even be- fore Spielberg's The Color Purple appeared late in 1985, many people were prepared to dislike the film--some because they disliked the politics of Walker's novel, and some because they thought Spielberg did not sham Walker's ideology. The mainstream press readied its attacks for the director: David Ansen (writing in the pre-Schindler's List era) began his review by suggesting that the idea of Spielberg directing The Color Purple seemed as improbable as that of Antonioni directing a James Bond movie.
"What could be stranger, " Ansen asked, "than America's popular practitioner of boy's adventure--a man who some leftist critics have assailed for his white-male-supremacist fantasies--adapting Alice Walker's feminist, matriarchal novel about the Southern rural black experience? " When they saw the film, most reviewers complained that the level of sentimentality in Spielberg's rendering diluted the effect of the novel's strong statements about relationships between the sexes and between the races. New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby said that although the film is faithful to the events of Walker's "grim, rudely funny, black feminist" novel, "it sees those events through lavender-color glasses that transform them into fiction of an entirely different order" (H17).
Many critics agreed with John Simon that the book's "feminist and lesbian coloration" is "lost in a mise en scene doing its damnedest to look like a cartoon film. While the film establishment was waiting to take on Spielberg, another group was waiting to attack the film on the basis of its objections to Walker's novel. A number of prominent African-American men criticized both book and novel for their negative portrayal of black males. [ 1] Writing in the Antioch Review, for instance, Gerald Early derided the film for selecting as its villain "the black male, the convenient and mutable antihero of the white American psyche for the past 150 years" (269).
Filmmaker Spike Lee stated in Film Comment that "the quickest way for a Black playwright, novelist, or poet to get published has been to say that Black men are shit" (Glicksman 48). Many other black male reviewers likewise attacked Walker's novel on the score of its scathing portrayals of its principal male characters: Mister, Celie's brutal husband; "Pa, " the father who rapes Celie and disposes of her two children; and Celie's stepson Harpo, who ruins a loving marriage by taking his family's advice to beat his wife.