Watching the film version of The Color Purple, I come away with the notion that those who are wicked are also weak and the wickedness really grows out of the weakness.
In the novel, it is easier to despise the father character. In the film, it's harder to fully condemn him because he is pitiful, at least to some degree.
I must admit I was struck not so much by the racism, though of course that is a major element of the film but by the sexual abuse experienced by the protagonist and her sister. I, like others, was driven to read the book based on the film, which I found to be very different in some ways. Above all, I was amazed by the moving portrayal of the sufferings--and endurance--of one woman.
I saw the movie when I was a teenager and prior to that hadn't really been exposed to either literature or film whose primary theme was race -- specifically about being a black woman for whom nothing was easy. I wasn't niave, but I remember the movie being a rather "in your face" reality check for me. I immediately read the book and had an even more powerful reaction to those themes.
I tend to agree with both of the previous posts. The movie was well done on its own merits, even though they didn't explore the lesbian relationship between Celie and Avery which certainly changes the nature of the story. But the acting was powerful and certainly, in my mind, up to the challenge of putting together a movie of this very powerful book.
I generally believe that you should not compare a film with its book. Films have to stand on their own feet, and a movie can never do the justice to a story that a book can do. They are completely different mediums. So when I watch a movie based on a book, I try to appreciate it on its own merits. I did enjoy this one, because I found it honest and heartfelt. It tried very hard to capture the spirit and essence of the book without trying to completely duplicate it.
I think that a couple of initial reactions immediately enter regarding the film and its contrast with the book. I thought that the film was fairly groundbreaking for its time of 1985 in its depiction of the struggles in being a woman of color. Given how the time period really did not emphasize much in way of ethnic difference and diversity, this aspect of the the film was different from the prevailing current. The other reaction I had was that the collection of acting was fairly strong. Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey highlighted a cast that truly acted well. Again, seeing a case of actors of color, particularly African- Americans, was different for the 1980s. I think that the film was a strong film. Seeing how the director really changed his own scope of focus in terms of the style of film, it was fairly impressive. The film's unwilllingness to truly explore the female relationship dynamic, as in the lesbian relationship between Celie and Avery, was something that was a notable exclusion.