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From Pulitzer Prize-winning book to Oscar-nominated film to Tony Award-winning musical, the beloved story of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple has been translated until multiple mediums. Now, the musical comes to life on the big screen, directed by Blitz Bazawule.
On Monday, Warner Bros. dropped the upcoming film’s first trailer, ahead of a Christmas Day release date later this year.
The trailer follows Celie (the younger version is played by Phylicia Mpasi and the adult version by Fantasia Barrino), after she is separated from her sister Nettie (Halle Bailey, Ciara). In the years to come, the film explores Celie’s lifelong series of struggles as a Black woman living in the American South of the early 1900s.
In a virtual Q&A ahead of the release of the trailer, producer Oprah Winfrey and director Bazawule discussed the making of the film and the impact of Walker’s tale, first published as novel in 1982.
“As long as there is a need for people to feel what it means to be loved up… there will be a need for The Color Purple,” said Winfrey. “I believe that in the future, this story just grows, and it never grows old.”
She added, “It is a classic, it is iconic. To be able to step into that with a boldness of vision that Blitz had for this film, and create this magically realized version, where we actually go inside Celie’s head is pretty incredible.”
“Every time I was on set, I was like the spoiled director,” Bazawule said. “The amount of talent, ability and brilliance was through the roof.” Starring American Idol-winner Barrino as Celie, the cast also features Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, H.E.R, Corey Hawkins and Aunjanue Ellis.
With a screenplay by Marcus Gardley, the film will feature songs from the musical, including “I’m Here” which is sampled in the trailer.
“The music is necessary,” Winfrey said. “This music comes up out of the soul of the narrative. And when the people are singing, they’re singing because they have nothing else to do to express the moment but sing.”
The movie musical comes nearly four decades after Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed 1985 film, which starred Whoopi Goldberg, Winfrey, Danny Glover and Margaret Avery. Winfrey earned an Oscar nomination for the film. This time around, Spielberg returns to produce, alongside Winfrey, Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones.
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