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THE COLOR PURPLE (2023)

What You Need To Know:

THE COLOR PURPLE is a musical version of a 1985 movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Adapted from an acclaimed novel and a Broadway play, the movie tells the story of Celie. As a teenager, Celie is impregnated by her stepfather, who takes both her baby children away. Then, she’s married off to a mean, banjo-playing widowed farmer with three children, who calls himself Mister. Mister beats Celie, then kicks out her beloved sister Nettie when Nettie refuses to let him rape her. So, the question is, will Mister ever get his comeuppance, or will he repent?

THE COLOR PURPLE musical version tells an emotional, redemptive, heartrending story of repentance, forgiveness and redemption, with overt positive references to God. However, the heroine has a lesbian affair with her husband’s mistress, a popular blues singer. THE COLOR PURPLE also suffers from many light obscenities and other lewd behavior. It also tells a feminist story of female empowerment against toxic masculinity. So, the uplifting Christian content in THE COLOR PURPLE comes with some difficult baggage, most of which is really superfluous to the main story.

Content:

(CC, B, FRFR, HoHo, FeFe, CapCap, LL, VV, SS, AA, D, M)

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong Christian, redemptive worldview tells an involved story of repentance, forgiveness and redemption (there are several songs and lyrics to God, including one titled “Maybe God’s Trying to Tell You Something,” preacher gives a sermon on forgiveness, and people pray to God at the end and end with an “Amen”), but it’s marred and mitigated by antinomian pro-homosexual scenes including one of two women kissing who then wake up in bed together, a scene where the two women watch a silent movie and end up kissing in the movie theater, and two scenes where one of the women is clearly smitten by the other woman who’s an attractive blues singer, who also sings a sultry song to the other woman in front of her new husband at a party, plus there is no verbal mention of Jesus, but there are scenes set in the church of the singer’s father where a cross with Jesus on it is

Foul Language:
About 38 obscenities (the “h” word is repeated multiple times with the word “no” during a song expressing female defiance) and two light profanities

Violence:
Man brutally slabs a woman two or three times, a black woman is beaten up by white men after the white mayor’s white wife slaps her, and the woman punches the wife (the woman is sent to jail and is only released to serve as the wife’s servant), there’s a bar fight started by two women hitting one another, woman ponders whether to slice her husband’s throat when he orders her to shave him, but she’s interrupted, and woman threatens husband with a knife

Sex:
Two depicted lesbian kisses in two scenes, two women wake up in bed together, partially depicted marital sex with sounds (camera pans bottom of the bed mattress), it’s suggested that a teenage girl’s father has raped her at least twice and resulted in two pregnancies but the man turns out to be her stepfather (he takes the two babies away and tells her he’s given them “to God”; it’s thought at first that he kills them but he actually gave the babies to an infertile missionary couple), married woman sings a seductive song titled “Sister” to her former lesbian lover at a party and ends up in her lap, man tries to rape the more desirable sister of his wife, but she fights him off, and so he kicks her out of the house, married man hugs and kisses his mistress, and it’s implied they’ve been having adulterous sex, and there’s some suggestive dancing at a juke joint in a rural area

Nudity:
No nudity, but brief female cleavage

Alcohol Use:
Alcohol use, three scenes of drunkenness, and scenes are set at a blues club in a rural area and at a party where alcohol is served

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Brief smoking but no drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Black characters face racism and toxic masculinity, and brief references are made to black Americans being related to Kings and Queens of Africa, as if African tribes themselves didn’t have sexism, war, slavery, and racism, which real history tells us they clearly did.

More Detail:

THE COLOR PURPLE is a musical version of a 1985 movie directed by Steven Spielberg, which is about a black woman from the first half of the 20th Century who’s separated from her beloved sister and abused by her mean husband, who hides the sister’s letters from his poor wife. Based on an acclaimed novel and a Broadway play, THE COLOR PURPLE tells an emotional, redemptive, heartrending story of repentance, forgiveness and redemption, with overt positive references to God, but the story is marred by a superfluous subplot of lesbian attraction, foul language and a lack of verbal references to Jesus.

The movie opens near the beginning of the 20th Century in the South. A young teenage black girl named Celie has been raped by her widowed stepfather, who runs a store. The stepfather takes the baby boy, who Celie names Adam, away, and Celie and her younger sister, Nettie, think he’s killed the baby. This is the second time he’s taken a baby away, but Celie thinks she’s seen the first baby, an infant she named Olivia, in the store. So, perhaps her stepfather didn’t kill Adam.

One day, a young banjo playing farmer named Albert, who calls himself “Mister,” approaches Nettie and is clearly attracted to her. He goes to the stepfather and asks for Nettie’s hand in marriage, but the stepfather says he can only let him have Celie. Celie dutifully follows Mister home and starts cleaning up the house and cooking supper later for him and his three children.

After supper, Mister wants Celie to bathe his children, but, when Celie says she’ll do it in the morning, he slaps her hard across the face. Dead tired, Celie collapses in her bed, only to have Mister climb on top of her for sex.

One day, Celie’s sister, Nettie comes urgently to the house and says she can no longer stay with their stepfather. It’s implied that he’s tried to have his way with Nettie, like he did with Celie, but Nettie escaped. Mister agrees to let her stay, but one night he tires to rape Nettie. She fights him off, and Mister gets so angry that he throws her out of the house in the rain and tells her never to darken his door again. Nettie promises to write Celie every day, but Celie is completely forlorn because she and Nettie share a strong sisterly bond.

Years pass. Mister’s oldest boy, Harpo, falls in love with an overweight, outspoken woman named Sofia. He even builds a house for her to live, near the swampy party of the family farm that Mister works for his mean, cantankerous father.

One day, however, Harpo comes to Celie for advice. He asks Celie what can he do to make Sofia behave more. Jealous of their relationship, Celie tells Harpo, “Beat her.” Celie’s advice leads to the breakup of Harpo’s marriage with Sofia. Harpo decides to turn the house into a juke joint. Also, he takes up with a younger, pretty skinny woman, and Sofia marries a boxer with three children of his own.

After Harpo builds the juke joint, Celie finds out that Mister is in love with the region’s top blues singer, a woman named Shug Avery. Shug is estranged from her father, who happens to be the pastor of the local Christian church. Mister learns that Shug is returning to her hometown, and Mister offers her Nettie’s old room. The news pleases Celie, because she’s also fallen in love with Shug, because of the photo of Shug that Mister keeps in his room.

Meanwhile, Harpo asks Shug to perform at his juke joint, and Shug agrees. Before her performance, Shug helps Celie pick out a nice dress to wear. Mister wants to take both Celie and Shug to the juke joint, but Shug begs off, telling him she needs to make a grand entrance on her own.

That night, Shug performs, but Harpo’s ex-wife, Sofia, also shows up, and she and Harpo’s new wife start a fight in the club while Mister gets drunk. In the middle of the fight, Shug and Celie return to the house, kiss and wake up in bed together the next morning. Shug gets out of bed and goes for a walk outside, where she greets the mailman. Shug sees that Celie has gotten a letter from her long-lost sister, Nettie. Celie reads the letter, where Nettie says she’s been writing to Celie for years, but never received a letter from her. Nettie surmises in the new letter that Mister has been hiding her letters from Celie, because Mister never let Celie take the mail from the mailbox. Celie and Shug find the old letters hidden in a box in Mister’s closet.

Back at the juke joint, Mister is totally passed out on one of the tables, but Harpo kicks him out. Mister returns home, where Shug distracts him while Celie reads Nettie’s letters. In reading the letters, Celie finds out that, after Mister kicked Nettie out, she became a nanny for a black missionary and his wife. Nettie discovered that their stepfather had given Celie’s two children, Olivia and Adam, to the missionary couple. After a year or so, the missionary family went to Africa to minister to a tribe there, but the tribe kept getting moved by the British colonial officials there as World War I came and went.

Eventually, however, Mister finds out that Celie knows about the letters and has tried to write Nettie. Mister tries to lay down the law, but Celie has grown tired of the man’s meanness. She’s also been inspired by the experiences of Harpo’s ex-wife Sofia, who’s spent several years in jail for punching the mayor’s white wife after the woman slapped Sofie for being impertinent. Celie finally stands up to him when Shug and her new husband come to a big family dinner. As Shug and her husband take Celie, Sofia and even Harpo’s second wife with them to Memphis to live, Celie tells Mister that until he does right by her, everything in his life will crumble.

So, the question becomes whether Mister will save his soul and do right by his common law wife, Celie.

THE COLOR PURPLE musical version tells an emotional, redemptive, heartrending story of repentance, forgiveness and redemption. There are more positive references to God in the new movie than in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 version. For example, the new movie opens with a great song where people are singing, “God works in mysterious ways.” Later in the movie, Shug’s preacher father gives a sermon on forgiveness. Also, another song centers on the lyrics, “Maybe God is trying to tell you something, and the movie ends with another spiritual song about the blessings and miracles of God, where people sing, “Look what God has done.”

The increased references to God in the musical version of THE COLOR PURPLE echo the references to God in the original novel by Alice Walker. That said, the original novel, despite its references to God, also tells a strong feminist story of female empowerment and “sisterhood,” including lesbian camaraderie, set in a world of toxic masculinity. Walker has said she based her main character on her grandmother, who was terrible abused by her grandfather, but was attracted to her grandfather’s mistress, who was a kind person. (One of MOVIEGUIDE®’s editors once worked with a Christian woman who was upset that her sister, who was raped three times, fell into a relationship with a lesbian woman.)

Despite the alleged autobiographical nature of THE COLOR PURPLE, however, the lesbian subplot in both this musical version and the 1985 version seems totally superfluous and gratuitous to the main story. Thus, there’s no reason why the relationship between Celie and the blues singer, Shug, has to be a lesbian one. Celie’s story works just as well if their relationship were just one of kindness, compassion and friendship. [SPOILER ALERT] Also, the redemption of Celie’s abusive husband, Albert, has great power, whether or not Celie gets back together with him. One thing that’s really nice about the new movie is that, after, Albert repents, the filmmakers show Albert touching Celie’s hand in support as she reunites with her long-lost sister and her two children. The tiny gesture gives new and wonderful meaning to the lyric in the movie’s title song, “The Color Purple,” where people sing in unison, “Look what God has done.” It’s a moment in the musical version that’s lacking in the 1985 movie.

All that said, it should be noted that, although THE COLOR PURPLE musical makes multiple verbal references to God, it has no explicit verbal references to Jesus or the “Gospel.” There is, however, a crucifix in the church behind the altar, with a figure of Jesus being crucified on the Cross. THE COLOR PEOPLE also has more than 25 “h” words repeated multiple times in one song, in addition to the movie’s explicit references to homosexuality and a man sexually abusing one of his stepdaughters.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.