Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Be happy

4 Comments

Ok ok. So, it’s totally true that the film The Color Purple is super funny, and this may seem not to jive with the book. This may be true–they’re very different art forms, with different audiences. I’m not sure whether they have differing purposes, though, which leads me to think that Alice Walker was OK with the humor. 

The only reason I could see for he approval is that she’s more concerned with presenting Celie and the other women as they are meant to be taken, as opposed to worrying about the male characters. As the movie builds, we get a sense of the familiar/womanly bonds between everyone, and they only get stronger. I would suggest that, at the least, we wait to offer an opinion until we’ve seen the whole thing–movies definitely are not meant to be taken in parts–there are not chapter breaks… Furthermore, in the book we never saw Celie judging until she became angry. It seemed most times like she was laughing, or just thought people were being crazy. And a lot of times it seems like she felt alone, and resigned. I definitely get all of that.

I think, though, that if I were hard-pressed, I’d say that we’re seeing what’s going on through Celie’s eyes. I don’t remember whether we’ve seen anything that Celie wouldn’t know about, if not see herself. Even the super-miserable thing that nearly happened to Nettie–that was terrifying and horrible, but Celie would have hear about it. Moreover, she’d have had no choice but to pretend to forget it if she’s living in the same house as the man who did it and then took Nettie away. Should she be miserable all the time? Crying and moping and down-trodden? She was pretty confident when she was reading to the kids on the porch. I liked a lot how to seemed her “Beat ‘er” rose out of somewhere deep inside her, almost like it was a joy or a secret… 

I suppose I just think that all these characters and the story are complex and there’s a lot going on. At times, I do think the comedic aspect is a bit over the top, but I definitely didn’t think that when I first saw it, so maybe that has more to do with the times… This was a while ago, and there were definitely different standards. I’m sure if it were remade today, it would be very different. Just try to see it for a try Celie’s-eye view, maybe…

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4 thoughts on “Be happy

  1. I enjoyed reading your post (as I always do). I can see where you are coming from with trying to see this situation from Celie’s view. I think my issue is that although these women do find a way to stand up for themselves and fight back, they were forced to do this because of the pressures put on them by men. Therefore, when the storyline was projected onto a screen, it made the men more visible to me than when I was reading the book. Maybe my opinion about too much comedy will change after we finish the film as we’ve only seen the first half. However, I think it’s also just a personal preference, which is fine by me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so I don’t feel like I am missing out by not being 100% on board with the film.

    • You can totally not be all in on the film–it doesn’t stand up to the book, really.. I wish I’d read it first!

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. I agree that we should wait to see the entire movie before we form an opinion on the humor. Like I said in my post, “Squeak”‘s character almost seems like comedic relief in the book, and I feel like that is just taken a little bit further in the movie. I’m not so sure that it takes away from the full message by adding in some humor.

    • Is it possible the humorous aspects of the book are played up because without them the film wouldn’t have reached as large an audience as it did? Maybe Spielberg’s (or Walker’s or the writer’s or whoever’s) goal was to use the humor to make the film more accessible and to get the film and the issues it presents to a wider audience? Also the book is more than a little schizophrenic too. The humor isn’t a complete addition it’s just kind of played up.

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