I like film adaptations when they add another layer to my appreciation of a novel, and The Color Purple is definitely working for me in this way. The film gives us so many scenes of love between Celie and Nettie that the letters from Nettie alone can’t illustrate. There is something wonderful about seeing them running or holding hands or smiling that just screams sisterly love. We get to see them doing girlish things like making fun of the men who want them (I can’t get over how much I love that – “oooh Nettie what white teeth you have!”).
As noted in some previous posts, the humor might be over-the-top. But I can forgive it because the violence is not sugarcoated at all. Watching Mr ____ forcibly haul Nettie down the stairs with Celie dragging behind on her stomach was one of the most gut-wrenching viewing experiences I’ve had in a while. I think it’s important to look at why the film version would linger on this moment, and change it so drastically from the book when everything else seems to follow closely. I think we need to see this domestic violence. We need to really occupy the moment and feel the horror of the abuse.
But we don’t need to remain there. The Color Purple has its strength in how it combats oppression through humor, yes, but also just in living life. The film makes the point that no man can just be the bad guy. Mr _____ loves Shug Avery. He can be a total fool in love and the destruction of Celie’s relationship with Nettie at the same moment. And that complication of character is powerful. So far the movie is only enriching my love for the story. I dig it.