The Color Purple


Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple became one of the moviemaker’s most remarkable successes, winning the National Board of Review’s Best Picture Award and garnering 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture while earning him Best Director honors from the DGA. The unforgettable characters of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel populate this lyrical cinematic adaptation. At the center is Celie, a Southern Black woman who gradually gains self-respect as she strives to educate herself and to find love, despite an abusive spouse and a society biased against her race and her sex.

I find this to be an engrossing and stirring drama. Spanning 40 years, its narrative is epic in scope, tragic, and momentously uplifting. The subject matter is tough and its depiction in the movie is visceral and heart-wrenching. The Color Purple is a powerful and sometimes disturbing film that is filled with raw emotion and well-drawn characters that are supported by excellent direction and gripping performances by its entire ensemble cast.

The Ultra HD video presentation looks particularly good, featuring tonally balanced primary colors and well-defined secondary hues that appear vibrant. Flesh tones are lifelike and natural. During close-ups, the level of visible detail in facial features and in clothing is noteworthy. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth, but fidelity is never in question. In general, resolution is excellent, offering clarity, detail, and dimension. Blacks are gradational and deep, and contrast and brightness are balanced well, which combine to enliven bright scenes while maintaining an appreciable level of delineation during darker segments. Grain is present and appears undisturbed. High dynamic range doesn’t play a central role in the presentation, but its application is welcome and appropriate.

The soundtrack is almost entirely dialogue-driven, with the music being the other dominant element. Quincy Jones’ score holds sway over the front soundstage, with excellent imaging and open expression. The mix provides clear and concise voice reproduction while the surrounds are used to broaden depth. Bass is held to the upper registers in support of the film’s innate elements. Overall, I felt that the track sounded quite strong.

Bonus material includes a look at The Color Purple: The Musical and three production featurettes that provide insights into the casting, acting process, adapting the book to the screen, and discussions with the cast and crew. The “making of” is the best of the lot but all are interesting. A digital copy code is included. The Color Purple is an absorbing and compelling film that looks terrific on Ultra HD Blu-ray.

STUDIO: Warner, 1985
AUDIO FORMAT: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
LENGTH: 153 mins., PG-13
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
STARRING: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Adolph Caeser, Margaret Avery

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