The story of two sisters from the American South and their enduring bond amidst adversities will make its return to the big screen as a movie musical, set to be released later this year.
There are stories that, even with the passing of time, continue to be relevant to audiences. One of these is Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed 1985 film The Color Purple, a coming-of-age period drama based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker. Its story, which has gone from novel to a movie to a Broadway musical, is set to be reimagined once more and retold as a movie musical to be directed by filmmaker and musician Blitz Bazawule.
The Color Purple tells the story of Celie Harris, a teenage African-American from Hartwell, Georgia, who bears two children by her abusive father, is married off to an abusive husband, and is separated from her sister, Nettie. The original movie adaptation depicted life in the Deep South in the early 20th century, touching on issues such as poverty and lack of education, the treatment of black women, different forms of abuse, nuances of lesbian relationships, and the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood among women.
The remake features a powerhouse cast of performers. Celie Harris, the role which put Whoopi Goldberg’s acting career on the map, will be played by Phylicia Mpasi and American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino, who had previously played the role on the Broadway musical adaptation; while her sister Nettie Harris will be played by Halle Bailey and Ciara Wilson. Joining them on the big screen are notable names in Hollywood and music, including Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Danielle Brooks as Sofia, who was nominated for a Tony in 2016 for the role; Coleman Domingo as Mister, H.E.R. as Squeak, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, Tamela Mann as First Lady, Aunjanue Ellis as Mama, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, and Louis Gosset Jr. as Ol’ Mister.
Warner Bros. has released the first official trailer for the film, set to Fantasia’s rendition of the musical’s showstopping number, “I Am Here.” The trailer focuses on the relationship between Celie and Nettie, with glimpses of the characters that impact the sisters’ lives, all set with Mister’s Farm in the background.
Bazawule’s The Color Purple marks the reunion of Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Quincy Jones as producers. The movie is set for release in North America on Christmas Day, while the international release is expected beginning January 18, 2024.