HOLLYWOOD—It was a movie that rocked the world when it was released nearly 40 years ago. It had an all-Black cast and was directed by Steven Spielberg, a Jewish man. The famed novel by Alice Walker, “The Color Purple” was being adapted for the big screen. No people, I’m not talking about the 2023 musical, I’m referring to the 1985 classic that uttered infamous lines like, “You show is ugly” and “All my life I had to fight,” I can continue to utter classic lines people because that is how powerful the movie was.

It was a searing and I mean searing drama that delivered all star performances. I still cannot fathom how this film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and did not win a single award. To say that race didn’t play a role in the Oscars all those decades ago would be complete horse (you know what). Whoopi Goldberg, a comic who had never acted burst on the scene and delivered a performance so powerful, gripping and explosive it cemented her as an actress to look out for.

Her portrayal of Celie, a woman who is battered, abused, disregarded and treated like trash, is haunting. You feel Celie’s emotions and that is a direct result of Goldberg’s performance. I don’t think it is something I have ever seen in cinema before and it bruised me on a psychological level. She doesn’t realize her strength right away, it doesn’t really manifest until the final 30 to 40 minutes of the movie at that INFAMOUS dinner scene that Goldberg delivers a scene-stealing moment that blows your socks off. Subtle, rage, comical, yet searing, as she gives Mister, the wicked character played with ferocity by Danny Glover. I’m still baffled that Glover didn’t earn a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his iconic performance, as an abusive husband, and predator.

Mister is just a cruel character, who punishes Celie at every turn, only to realize at the end that all his bad misfortune is because of his own antics. You also have the standouts in Margaret Avery as Shug, the feminine, sexy songstress who opens Celie’s eyes to her beauty and inner strength. Avery was so fantastic in the role it earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but she was competing against her co-star Oprah Winfrey as Sophia.

Oh, Sophia was the first time I can recall seeing a strong Black woman in a role that didn’t feel stereotypical. She was powerful, blunt and didn’t bite her tongue; so much to her suffering, after speaking back to a White woman in public. Winfrey’s portrayal was iconic; it is one that is as memorable as that scene where she confronts Celie about telling Harpo to beat her.

That was the scary element of “The Color Purple” it was still talking about issues of race and how women are depicted and treated in society, ESPECIALLY women of color. In addition, you got the opportunity to see the bond of two sisters separated at a young age, but manages to maintain that love they have for one another, and seeing them reunite is such a joy it brings tears to your eyes. Spielberg is proof that he was the right choice to direct the flick because to this day, anyone I talk to coins that film as one of the best dramas about African-American society and culture they have ever seen.

It is poignant and rips your emotions apart, which is a testament to a powerful drama. In addition, Spielberg takes a special level of care with the subject matter that makes you appreciate what you are witnessing on the big screen or small screen. It is disappointing that Spielberg didn’t receive the accolades he deserves for his craftsmanship on this phenomenal picture, and I will say it right here, he is one of the best directors still alive and knows how to take material and turn those words into a vision that lives and people chat about for years to come.

The one thing that is important to note about “The Color Purple” (1985) is that it is a movie that is tough to watch, but when you do it impacts you in a way that great cinema does: you never forget it.