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The differences between the novel by Alice Walker, "The Color Purple" and the film by the same name, directed by Steven Spielberg.

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Introduction

The paper shows the differences between the novel by Alice Walker, "The Color Purple" and the film by the same name, directed by Steven Spielberg. The paper shows the distinct differences between film and the literature that inspired both versions of "The Color Purple", differences unique to each different media that yield very different effects upon the reader and upon the viewers of Walker's tale. "In contrast, Celie's pregnancy in the film is revealed not verbally but visually. Film is often called a visual rather than a verbal medium and the film's rendering of this event confirms this. In the film, a sense of Celie's innocence is conveyed by the young girl's voice singing songs with her younger sister, the sight of the child Celie playing patty-cake with her sister and the two girls running through green fields. The scene looks idyllic, until the young actress playing Celie becomes entirely revealed from head to toe. Then, the viewer suddenly realizes with a jolt, the child is pregnant." Alice Walker's second and most famous novel, The Color Purple, tells the story of Celie, a fourteen year old girl repeatedly raped by her (step) father, and impregnated twice by him. Told in the form of letters to God and her younger sister, Nettie, the novel covers a period of time that we can only estimate to be almost 30 years or so. This novel gained particular popularity when made into a film directed by Steven Spielberg. You may find drawing comparisons between the film and the novel to be particularly helpful to an initial examination of the novel, particularly for the characterisation of Shug Avery and her relationship with Celie. Clearly the epistolary form is a significant discussion point for this novel. Walker demonstrates a particular interest in domestic art, or art forms available to oppressed women, of which letter writing is one, in her works. ...read more.

Middle

But the scene in which the women kiss each other is more explicit. Celie not knowing much about her sexuality is supposed to look at her vagina. The lesbian relationship is not obvious in the movie as Alice Walker remarks: "In the movie almost all the women kiss each other, making the kiss between Celie and Shug less significant." (Walker 1996, p.168). Obviously Hollywood wouldn�t accept a homosexual relationship on the big screen. Nevertheless because of the working chemistry between the actresses Margaret Avery and Whoopi Goldberg the close relationship and connection between Shug and Celie evolves beautifully. Inspite of this one major flaw of the portrayal of Shug in the movie is the newly created subtheme of Shug�s father who is a preacher that doesn�t accept the life she leads. Throughout the movie Shug often attempts to please him. It is obvious that Shug suffers from the situation she�s in. Because of Shug�s wish of reconciliation with her father her character appears vulnerable. This is a major difference to the Shug we know from the book. Shug is the only woman in the novel who is totally free from oppression by men. She doesn�t give in to any kind of control: "In the book, Shug was a "wild woman" and quite unrepentant about it too. [...] To have this woman come back to the church and into the embrace of her father, the preacher who had done sermons about her lifestyle as sin incarnate, definitely undercuts the rebel image of Shug (which was a big part of what drew Celie towards her) and undercuts the movie�s overall strong stand against patriarchy." (Dix, p. 197) Alice Walker herself misses "[...] Shug�s completely unapologetic self-acceptance as outlaw, renegade, rebel, and pagan; [...]" (Walker 1996, p. 35) The downplaying of the love relation between Shug and Celie is acceptable as the chemistry between those two characters works very well but adding some sort of weakness to the strong character of Shug is a flaw of the adaptation to the big screen. ...read more.

Conclusion

Walker. Without any reflection her character shouldn�t be able to grow and the process of her becoming self-confidant is not clear to the viewer. Shug�s strength is degraded by adding the wish of reconciliation with her religious father. Therefore she is not as intriguing to Celie and doesn�t support the theme of independence as much as expressed in the book. Albert�s character is put too much in the center of the story. His character is portrayed in a too positive way. His awakening and awareness of the things he did wrong isn�t expressed in the end. There is no hope for him as he is outcast which doesn�t correspond to the way Alice Walker wanted his situation to change. By altering important traits of the major characters an entirely new version of The Color Purple is accomplished. Considering the responses from the audience one can say that there was as much praise as there was opposition. There were people who didn�t accept the movie and felt offended as well as people whose lives changed in a positive way. Alice Walker herself didn�t like the movie at all when she first saw it. But after receiving positive reactions from people all over the world she realized that the movie carries the right message. Although there are some major differences between the movie and the book the movie has some special achievements. The thought provoking story told on the big screen reaches a larger audience including illeterate people. Furthermore the problems are made public causing controversy. As so much is said about the movie many people will start thinking about the themes expressed in The Color Purple - even the ones who would never have read the book. As Alice Walker concludes: "We may miss our favorite part [...] but what is there will be its own gift, and I hope people will be able to accept that in the spirit that it�s given." (Dworkin, p. 181) They certainly did. ...read more.

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