Monday, March 7, 2011


(December 1985, U.S.)

During a period of nine years (1975-1984), Steven Spielberg reigned as supreme commander over the American blockbuster. He'd given us stories of a giant New England shark named "Bruce", dazzling unidentified flying objects, two adventures of an archaeologist named after the family dog, and a sqishy extra-terrestrial who only wanted to go home (and in my opinion, even the 1979 comedy flop, 1941, wasn't that bad). But Steven Speilberg was suffering an unfortunate stigmata of a "Peter Pan syndrome" in that it appeared the man would never grow up, at least in terms of the movies he was making.

But then in 1985, something strange happened that forever turned the tide for him (and US, as his fans!). Warner Brother's THE COLOR PURPLE was announced and Steven Spielberg was going to direct it. Wait a second! How could this be? Spielberg was, by all accounts, still a kid who likely couldn't do better than blockbuster event movies - you know, the kind that came with an extra large bucket of buttered popcorn and an extra large Coke. What possible justice could this man do to an African-American period drama film based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel? Besides, the man was white and Jewish, for crying out loud! But guess what - this incredible story that showed the problems African-American women faced during the early 1900s, including poverty, racism, and sexism and how the character of Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg) is forever transformed as she finds her self-worth through the help of her two strong female companions shined through under Spielberg's masterful direction. It also had what I still consider to be the most heart-touching, sentimental climactic reunion of any film I've ever seen that would likely bring the toughest person you know to pathetic, wimpy tears. It was a film about life and love that made us think, laugh and cry. In short, it was what I considered to be the best picture of 1985, and it was cleary time for the whole world to take the work of Steven Speilberg seriously.

But wait, it got even better! By the start of 1986, THE COLOR PURPLE was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including best picture of the year. You know how many it won? None. I say again, NONE!!! In what I still consider to be the greatest act of rape and robbery in the history of the Oscars, THE COLOR PURPLE lost every fucking nomination it received and was defeated in the best picture department by Sidney Pollack's grossly-inferior OUT OF AFRICA! It seemed pretty damn clear (at the time) that Hollywood and the idiots who were running it were never going to give Spielberg his just dues as a great and serious film maker. Even twenty-five years later, I still get pissed thinking about how that man got so royally screwed! It would take another eight years before a Steven Spielberg film would finally get the best picture Oscar it deserved and that film would be SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993).

Favorite line or dialogue:

Celie (shouting to Albert): "I'm poor, black, I might even be ugly, but dear God, I'm here. I'm here!"

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