By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –
In the entertainment world, one of the most controversial aspects of film-making is how films depict African-American culture. Hattie McDaniel might have been the first black person to with an Academy Award for her supporting role in Gone with the Wind (1939), but it was not until 2002 that the first black woman won a “Best Actress” Oscar, which went to Halle Berry for her leading role in Monster’s Ball (2001). Halle Berry herself cried tears of joy during the night of her historic victory because it helped shed light on “every faceless woman of color” (according to her Academy Award acceptance speech).
There has even been recent controversy surrounding how the Academy acknowledges black individuals in the entertainment industry, especially the hashtag #OscarSoWhite that took Twitter by storm when the Academy nominated only white actors and actresses for films released in 2014 and 2015. Even with the contributions of African-Americans in the creative world, there is still an issue with representation with that particular racial group, especially black women. Nevertheless, Steven Spielberg remains an influential filmmaker (even in 2018), and his film adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Color Purple is still one of the best films ever made regardless of the people involved both in front of the camera and/or behind-the-scenes of this contemporary classic.
Even though this film acquired no Academy Awards, its eleven nominations were well-deserved. A fun fact is that Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey both received nominations even though this was the film debut for both of them. Some of their fans have also argued that both of these actresses should have won Oscars for bringing Walker’s heroines to life in this profoundly moving film. Another interesting piece of trivia is that the character named “Harpo” is actually “Oprah” spelled backwards. The film score is also absolutely phenomenal, especially since twelve musicians were all nominated in the “Best Original Score” category that year. A shocking fact, though, was that Steven Spielberg failed to receive a nomination for his directorial efforts even though some would consider this film to be one of the best within his extensive filmography. Spielberg was still blessed during the making of this film, though, because his first child was born during its production. The film itself is a beautifully realized depiction of Alice Walker’s celebrated novel, and it continues to resonate with viewers even with all of the current social movements to promote equality for not just African-Americans, but for all people. It is safe to say that this film is a step forward towards racial and social equality in modern times!
Even with current controversies like #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite, The Color Purple remains a seminal film that has helped educate viewers about the difficulties that have plagued African-Americans in earlier historical eras. The original novel and this film adaptation are both so spectacular that there is even a popular Broadway show based on Alice Walker’s classic story. The title of this film might be The Color Purple, but its honest depictions of people of color help promote the fact that everyone is deserving of love, acceptance, and equality regardless of the color of their skin (pun intended).
The Color Purple (1985) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Celie attempts to find salvation by communicating with God through writing letters
Take a Drink: for every scene that takes place on rural farms
Drink a Shot: every time the color purple holds a symbolic meaning