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The Color Purple's Inspirational Story

December 20th, 2023The Color Purple's Inspirational Story

THE COLOR PURPLE opens December 25

The past 12 months have given us movies with great messages, inspirational stories, and unforgettable moments that have brought joy and wonder to AMC Theatres locations nationwide. Before the end of the year, audiences will get to take in at least one more film that falls into that category with Blitz Bazawule’s THE COLOR PURPLE, a musical coming-of-age drama based on Alice Walker’s beloved novel and the successful Broadway production of the same name. THE COLOR PURPLE’s rich and authentic storytelling, compelling music, and the strong performances from its cast are just some of the reasons why this new movie has been recognized as an AMC Artisan Film.

As we look toward one of the biggest releases left on the 2023 movie calendar, we thought we’d take a look back at Walker’s landmark novel, its moving story, and the various adaptations that have introduced characters like Celie Harris-Johnson, Sofia, Albert "Mister" Johnson, and numerous others to multiple generations over the years. Let’s go back to where it all started.

A Story Of Adversity And Perseverance

In the various film and stage productions of THE COLOR PURPLE, as well as Alice Walker’s book on which they are all based, there has been one constant: a story of great adversity and perseverance. The book follows Celie Harris-Johnson as she rises from a young girl living in the oppressive society that was the American South in the early 20th century, and the struggles she faced there, to a self-assured and strong woman with a grip on her own identity and destiny.

Spanning 40 years, the epic saga features just as many uplifting and transformative moments as upsetting and difficult instances of abuse, violence, and heartbreak. Watching Celie, as well as other characters around her rise from the ashes to start anew is nothing short of powerful.

Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize

In April 1983, one year after “The Color Purple” first entered publication, Alice Walker was awarded the Pulitzer Prize® in fiction, making her the first Black woman to receive the prestigious honor, according to the New York Times. The author would also take home numerous other awards and accolades in the months and years following the book’s release, including the 1983 National Book Award, one of the most notable designations bestowed upon an American writer.

In the years and decades that have followed, “The Color Purple” has remained one of the key American novels of our time and one that continues to enthrall readers with its epistolary structure and rich characters.

Steven Spielberg’s Decorated Adaptation

In 1985, just three years after Alice Walker’s novel became a massive success, Steven Spielberg released THE COLOR PURPLE, the first, but not last, adaptation of the book. Starring Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Harris-Johnson, Danny Glover as Albert Mister Johson, and Oprah Winfrey as Sofia, the film was a massive success, both critically and commercially, making lead actors household names.

Though it didn’t win any Academy Awards®, THE COLOR PURPLE was nominated in a total of 11 categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, and the Best Actress and Best Supported Actress categories. Nearly 40 years later, the film, much like the novel on which it’s based, continues to be a beloved treasure that is experienced by new generations every day.

A Broadway Sensation

In 2005, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray’s Broadway adaptation of “The Color Purple” kicked off an impressive three-year run in New York City, one that would earn the production a total of 11 Tony® Award nominations by the time of the final show. LaChanze, who played Celie in the Broadway run, won a Tony for her performance in 2006.

A decade later, starting in 2015, “The Color Purple” was brought back to Broadway following a series of national and international tours, with a celebrated and successful revival. This time around, Cynthia Erivo took on the lead role and won a Tony in the process. The production also won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical in 2016, as well as numerous other awards and accolades.

Blitz Bazawule’s Musical Interpretation

This all leads us to Blitz Bazawule’s THE COLOR PURPLE, the upcoming adaptation that takes elements of Alice Walker’s original novel, the 1985 adaptation, and the Broadway musical to create an experience that will surely be something to behold. This long-in-the-works project, which was adapted by Marcus Gardley, features a remarkable ensemble cast that includes Fantasia Barrino as Celie Harris-Johnosn, Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Danielle Brooks as Sofia, and several other notable actors and musicians.

Based on everything we know about THE COLOR PURPLE, this is going to be a movie that fans of the material, as well as those who love musicals, surely won’t want to miss on the big screen. With dazzling song-and-dance numbers, great performances, and a new spin on the classic story, there’s going to be a lot to enjoy.

Check out THE COLOR PURPLE when the latest adaptation of Alice Walker’s landmark novel debuts on Christmas Day. And don’t forget to check out AMC Scene for all the latest on other new and upcoming movies coming to an AMC Theatres location near you.

 THE COLOR PURPLE opens December 25

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