The cast of the 2023 movie adaptation of The Color Purple praised the film heritage as they walked the red carpet on Monday for the London premiere. The new musical adaptation, directed by Blitz Bazawule, draws from a screenplay by Marcus Gardley, based on the stage musical of the same name, which was based in turn on the 1982 novel of the same name by Alice Walker. This version is the second film adaptation after a 1985 movie that won Whoopi Goldberg a Golden Globe for her performance as Celie.
The latest version of The Color Purple, produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Quincy Jones, builds on the storied legacy of the original. The film stars American Idol alumna Fantasia Barrino as Celie and Danielle Brooks as Sofia in her feature debut. The two Broadway performers join a star-studded cast that includes Taraji P. Henson, Halle Bailey, Corey Hawkins, Louis Gossett Jr., David Alan Grier, Ciara, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi and Jon Batiste.
Winfrey, who also co-starred in the 1985 film and received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, has been deeply involved with every aspect of this new production. She is an executive producer along with Scott Sanders, who helmed the movie and adapted the stage musical, and Quincy Jones, who scored the original soundtrack.
The film follows the life of Celie, a poor and isolated African American woman living in rural Georgia in the early 1900s who endures horrific abuse at the hands of nearly every male figure in her life, most notably Mister (Colman Domingo). She is rescued from despair by Shug Avery (Fantasia), a seductive but worn-out slave who transforms into a loving mentor and guide.
The story mirrors the plight of women, queer people, and colonized nations as it follows Celie’s hard-won march toward liberty. It is told through a mix of musical numbers, dramatic scenes, and flashbacks, strongly emphasizing family and community.
The musical features jazz, ragtime, and gospel, with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The film is written by Marsha Norman and adapted from the book by Alice Walker. The Color Purple is set to open in the United States on Dec. 25 and will be released in Britain on Jan. 6.