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Visual Index ~ The Color Purple's Best Shot(s)

For this week's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot I challenged participating blogs (you should join us next week for The Bad and the Beautiful!) to rewatch Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's THE COLOR PURPLE (1985) and make their choice for "best shot". The cinematography by Allen Daviau was Oscar-nominated, as were its central trio of actresses Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Avery, and Oprah Winfrey (who returns to the screen in The Butler this weekend). The Color Purple famously lost all of its nominations but remains a touchstone film for many moviegoers and a divisive one for others.

All of which makes it an ideal candidate for this series. Here's what the various blogs chose so click on any of the pictures for the corresponding article. They're mostly in chronological order though I've had some strange html issues that have altered the look of the post which I can't quite figure out so I apologize for the wonkiness. I always marvel when different sets of eyeballs coalesce around the same images and scenes in films as visually showy as this one. 8 of the 13 participants chose the same scene and its aftermath.

The Film Experience

Nick's Flick Picks

More best shot choices after the jump...

My New Plaid Pants
We Recycle MoviesEncore's WorldStale Popcorn
Sorta That GuyThe Pretentious Know It All
Antagony & EcstacyFilm Actually
Me Says
Nick's Flick Picks
The Film's The Thing
A Fistful of Film

I Want to Believe

Which is your favorite and when was the last time you saw The Color Purple?

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References (2)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (28)

I loved the acting in the movie of all the principal actors and actresses.... I cried like I should have... and that was the problem for me after I left the theater..

I said o my wife, I loved the movie but Spielberg was totally manipulating the audience and I realized quite it quickly and it spoiled the whole movie for me..

Speilberg has continually done this in his movies... I still love Schindnler's List and think it is a classic ... otherwise I am not a huge Spielberg fan

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Distractors have always said that "The Color Purple" is overly sentimental in parts, and could be quite manipulative, but one can't deny the power of Alice Walker's story, and the acting of the three female leads. It is flawed, but powerful.

This was Spielberg's first foray into dramatic territory, and I believe it's his most underrated gem. Should have won Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress for Avery.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

Film is a manipulation. All those the auteur let me figure out for myself pictures are just as edited and orchestrated as the movies that underline every single point.

Spielberg went broad for his adaptation and because his neither black nor female he built his film like a silent movie -- making sure that audiences unaware of the experiences of black American people could easily digest no matter what part of the world they're from. Either you're going to feel or hold your nose and dismiss the whole thing and certainly Alice Walker's voice isn't readily embraced by most to begin with. It's too feminine too sensual too much of everything that isn't standard practice white and male.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

OK so I got overly excited that TCM was showing Bad and the Beautiful this past weekend when I actually had free time and was so excited that I would be able to participate this week, only to then realize that it WASN'T the film for this week! Aw well. I've wanted to see The Color Purple for quite a while, too. These are all really interesting write-ups.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Question to people who saw the musical: how do they portray Celie and Shug's relationship?

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Anne Marie: the musical version of the story is still Celie's so the romance is secondary to Celie's journey of self-fulfillment, but it's addressed in a fuller way than the film. Act One closes with a love duet between Celie and Shug after which they kiss and embrace.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

VERY interesting how loads of the shots stem from a particular scene. Loved reading the write-ups and everyone's adoration of one of the main three ladies.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

I did mine and, yes, it's from the "Miss Celie (Blues)" scene. A moment of radiant beauty for the women in a film where ugliness of character permeates even the prettiest of pictures.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Antagony & Ecstacy nails it. I remember seeing this movie and being offended by Spielberg's presumption, to "practice" his "serious filmmaking" on material about black people and women. That said, Whoopi was in my top 2 (with Lange) among the Best Actress nominees, and Oprah and Avery were my top two in Supporting Actress.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Late to the party, and flagrantly flouting the rules by picking six shots, but it's better than not participating, right?

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

This is one of my top 5 fave films ever,i always struggle where to put Danny Glover lead or support,my fave shot is of him with the horse as Shug looks on.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Nick "it's better than not participating right?" --- YES much much better. Great article.

August 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm so late! Sorry. I saw your post yesterday that said something about watching this in the next 24 hours and I thought I had more time than I did!!!

Anyways, here is my late post:

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

So no one chose the purple field?!

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

When Celia put that "curse" on Mister, my God. #dead. I would have given Whoopi Goldberg the Oscar for that scene alone. Not to mention so many other ones.

That would have been my choice too for this, which I still don't get how it works, but anyway. Good going, The Film's the Thing!

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSamson

i always struggle where to put Danny Glover lead or support

No ambiguity about placement, Glover's a lead.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Glover is clearly supporting...but whatever.


August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Samson - what's not to get. U watch. U choose a shot. U post it thereby joining the conversation! That scene us fab, yes.

Andrew., agreed that Glover us unambiguously supporting and y'all know what a stickler I am for that subject .

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R


Do NOT argue with 3rtful ... he is always right..

As when he says," Film is manipulation." Yes, it is, but when done excellently, the audience is not aware of it...In Spielberg's case, it is at times very obvious, and I feel cheated.

Anyway, as another blogger has often pointed out..."Who can understand what 3rtful is talking about, anyway!"

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

hey hey everyone play nice.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Totally fortuitous, totally relevant: has everyone seen the NYTimes piece today about the current revival of the Color Purple musical in London?

Sounds amazing. The excess and unevenness of the original show is evident even from the cast recording, which is the only way I know it. But it's got great moments, and holy God, LaChanze's rendition of the closing number "I'm Here" is one of my favorites in any Broadway musical. Nobody needs to know how often I sing along.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis


I was playing as nice as I want... I left this blog for 10 months because of such irreversible ignorance..

If you rather I leave and he stay ... so be it

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

rick -- i wasn't attacking you! note that you were not addressed. it was a general "reminder" I just want everyone to be nice which makes the commenting more fun.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

@NICK - but how often do you sing along?

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNOBODY

Also @Nick - Is it even better than Fantasia's version? I adore her rendition of it, especially that Tony Awards performance.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88


Oh... I should not take it personally when I have not seen you ever go that far in "reminders" when a certain blogger goes vile????

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I wrote a loooooong piece over on the OTHER "Color Purple" thread--but I just wanted to say that my choice is when Celie goes back to her inherited childhood house, and does the turn-away thing with her glasses; then the music rises as she turns around and sees it, lets out a little shriek of joy and does a little dance, then runs up the lane towards it. So few movies have an image of a black female experiencing utter, and complete triumph; this has it by the bucketful.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

It's always cool to me when uber-American properties find success in West End, and then uber-Britishy properties find success on Broadway. I guess this has always been a "thing," but we're seeing it more and more lately. "Kinky Boots" wins Best Musical over here when the translation could have been anything but (though the team developing it was pointedly American). "Matilda" was this close to winning this year. Freakin' "Jersey Boys" wins the Olivier for Best Musical! Now "The Color Purple" is getting raves over there too! Craziness. I would have never expected that translation to land with those stuffy Brits at ALL. I guess the "otherness" of each respective milieu attracts the differing awards body. Very interesting only to me, I realize. :-)

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBillBill

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