Oprah and ‘The Color Purple’ Stars on the New Musical Remake: “It’s Bright. It’s Vibrant. It’s Us”

Data News Staff Edited Report

Of all the emotions that The Color Purple evokes, joy is typically not among them.

After all, the movie based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel centers on a Black woman who suffers unspeakable sexual and physical abuse from the men in her life, sees her children taken away from her at birth, lives during the punishing times of a Post-Slavery South and is belittled by the outside world as unworthy of love. While her journey, told through her letters to God, eventually arrives at an intersection of peace and forgiveness, joy is something that seems fleeting for much of Celie’s story.

The musical remake of the 1985 Classic Film, out Dec. 25th, doesn’t change the narrative, but does filter it through a different lens – focusing on the moments that inspire Celie, the women in her life who lift her to that point and, more important, the healing that restores not only her humanity, but that of those around her.

Reflecting on the story, the three female stars – Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks and Taraji P. Henson – speak in reverence of the original film and the book. Henson likens it to Shakespeare for the Black community, and Brooks says, “I’ve been describing it as our Cinematic Heirloom. And I just really truly feel that’s what it is. It’s the thing that you cherish the most that was passed on since 1985. You take care of it, and you pass it on to the next.”

Despite that reverence, Henson can also see some of its flaws. “The first movie missed culturally. We don’t wallow in the muck. We don’t stay stuck in our traumas. We laugh, we sing, we go to church, we dance, we celebrate, we fight for joy, we find joy, we keep it. That’s all we have,” Henson tells THR during a recent interview, with Barrino and Brooks sitting by her side. “We don’t have power. We are continuously oppressed, kept under a thumb. So, what else can we do but laugh and celebrate life? We have to, otherwise we would die. So, as soon as you see the first frame, you’re going to know that this movie is different. The coloring is different. It’s light, it’s bright, it’s vibrant. It’s us.”

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