Sunday, February 10, 2008

There’s Life After the Darkness, in the Color Purple

“You sho is ugly,” evokes laughter and the bitter sting of embarrassment.

Many people know what film this hilarious line originates from. But for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give you a hint. Think purple.

Ah yes, the Color Purple. This Academy Award Nominated, snubbed for Best Picture, film is based on the novel by Alice Walker. In the movie, director Steven Spielberg, brings to life the story of women living during the Jim Crow era of the south.

The misery of the main character, Celie, is beautifully shown through the dark, warmth of Whoopi Goldberg’s eyes. Celie learns to read from her spiritual, soul-mate sister, Nettie. Her children by her incestuous, step-father are stripped from her arms after birth. She lives in fear of Mister’s, her husband’s, cold remarks and bruising punches. Yet, her ability to read allows her to leave her mundane world, for the fantasy lives of those in books.

However, the pain and struggle of southern life is shared with Celie’s daughter-in-law, Sophia, played by the remarkable Oprah Winfrey.

Sophia is everything that Celie isn’t. She speaks her mind, does what she wants, and pays for it with a jail sentence. But the fact that Sophia spends time in jail and as a servant to the bitchy mayor’s wife doesn’t diminish her power. Sophia stood up for herself when pressed for submission by the racists in her town. By doing so, she helped make it clear that abuse should not be accepted, no matter what the circumstances.

Eventually, the tone of the film takes on a lighter note when Shug Avery comes to visit. She’s the ex-lover of Mister and the opposite of Celie. She’s sexy, assertive and calls Mister by his real name, Albert. Through the course of Shug’s visit, Celie begins to see that love between women can revitalize your spirit.

Once the awakening of Celie’s mind, body, and spirit are one, she begins to start a new life. She moves away from Albert, begins a business, and finds peace within herself. She reaches out to the women as a calming force in the group.

Sophia is released from servitude by the death of the mayor’s wife and reconciles with her husband Harpo. In turn, she finally gets the respect she deserves from him and society.

As for Shug Avery, her story ends on a positive note. She makes peace with her minister father, gets married, and continues to be a source of soulful, sangin to her friends and family.

However, the film will bring tears of happiness. Happiness for the lives they left behind and the new ones they created.

Yes, I can relate to this film. Not only because I am an African-American woman who has relatives from the south. But because I have endured hardship, like helping a mother with breast cancer, while still completing a Bachelor’s Degree and working. It wouldn’t have been my choice to experience this at the end of my college career, but I am stronger, knowing I survived right along with Celie, Shug, Sophia and my mother.