Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Color Purple - It's All About Sofia

The Color Purple has always been about Sofia for me. She was the character who hit me the most and who stayed very vivid in my memory. If the movie is about the 2 biggest "-isms" of our time; racism and sexism, then Celie's story is all sexism and Sofia's most heartbreaking arc is about racism.

I love this shot from Sofia's first scene and introduction to the audience. Look at her. She's so full of life, love, hope, joy and most of all undeniable spirit. You know instantly that this is someone who's ready to take on the world. Even Mister's complete contempt doesn't bring her down. All of this will be chipped away from Sofia, little by little through the system, circumstances, and just because she was born who she is at the time and place she lived. Makes you want to scream at the injustice of it all. But first we get to savour the promise that lies in this shot.

"You told Harpo to beat me??!!"

Oprah Winfrey - as if there is another -is everything in this role. Watch her confront Celie in the famous "You told Harpo to beat me? " scene. In less than 2 minutes she tells her life story which is the story of all the Purple women including Miss Celie. But she also shows us her resilience and determination. It's the opposite of Celie's " I don't know how to fight, I know how to survive". Here she does what people like her do all the time; she opens Celie's eyes and leads to realize that she doesn't have to accept what's coming her way. If only knowing how to fight is enough.

And here it is; Sofia's ultimate defeat. Her giving in to Miss Millie which goes against everything we know about her. I still remember the first time I watched this, at home, on video. I broke down at Sofia's first encounter with Miss Millie's. Oh my how her spirit - the most beautiful thing about her - was broken. I cried and cried and couldn't stop even after the movie was over. Some 25 years later this memory is so vivid and alive with me. I still want to scream at the world; at that injustice.

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