Tomorrow marks exactly 25 years since The Color Purple was released in the U.S. The movie featured a then-unknown Whoopi Goldberg in the starring role of Celie, an already established actor, Danny Glover, as Albert/Mister, and a local news anchor named Oprah Winfrey as Sofia.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, The Color Purple was originally met with bad reviews. Critics bashed Spielberg for straying far from the book and making the film too “soft.” Nonetheless, The Color Purple garnered¬†11 Oscar nominations and the fans spoke — this film is a classic.
The Color Purple was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. The book dealt with complex issues such as domestic abuse, homosexuality, sexism and racism. When Walker gave permission to remake the film, she insisted on three things: approval of the script, approval of the director (an already famous Steven Spielberg had to audition for Walker) and that the crew behind the scenes be at least 50 percent¬†people of color.¬† All of these requests were met.
Famously, after¬†11 Oscar nominations –¬†including Goldberg for best actress and Winfrey for best supporting actress — The Color Purple lost in every single category, even down to best makeup. Spielberg didn’t even receive a best director nod.
The Color Purple grossed over $94 million at the box office and was #4 in the yearly rankings for 1985. The film goes down in history as one of the few¬†to feature an African-American cast and a high production budget. Twenty-four years later, we still haven’t seen anything quite like it… except for maybe Precious.
Watch Whoopi Goldberg’s vintage Golden Globe speech from 1986, where, just like Mo’Nique in 2010, she paid homage to the late, great Hattie McDaniel.
Also, click here for our recent interview with Desreta Jackson who played Young Celie.