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Blu-ray Reviewer
15,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Warner Bros. - 1985
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 153 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Adolph Caesar, Rae Dawn Chong
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Music by: Quincy Jones
Written by: Menno Meyjes based on the novel by Alice Walker
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 25, 2011

"It's about life. It's about love. It's about us."

Film Synopsis:

Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple is a richly-textured, powerful film set in America's rural south. Whoopi Goldberg, winner of the Best Actress Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination, makes a triumphant screen debut as the radiant, indomitable Celie, the story's central character. Her impressive portrayal is complimented by a distinguished cast that includes Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery, Adolph Caesar, Rae Dawn Chong and Akosua Busia. The Color Purple marks a new, more mature color in Spielberg's artistic palette. It is an exquisitely crafted, landmark film that will be treasured and talked about for years to come.

My Take:

Steven Spielberg's film of The Color Purple became one of the moviemaker's most remarkable successes. It won the National Board of Review's Best Picture Award, garnered 11 Academy Award® nominations (including Best Picture) and earned Spielberg Best Director honors from the Director's Guild of America. The unforgettable characters of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize novel populate this lyrical cinematic adaptation. At the center is Celie, whose search for fulfillment in a world closed to her becomes a triumph of cruelty overcome by love, of pain eclipsed by joy.

I find The Color Purple to be an engrossing and emotionally stirring film. This is an epic style film with a period specific narrative that is senselessly tragic and momentously uplifting. The Color Purple covers lots of territory as it involves elements of rape, incest, emotional and physical abuse (of a brutal nature), racial tension, and sexuality. The subject matter is tough and its depiction in the movie is visceral and heart wrenching. As told from Celie's perspective character development is superb which establishes the connectivity and purposeful foundation from which the story is derived. This is where the strength of the film lies and it is supported by a marvelous ensemble of talent lead by the then predominantly unknown Whoopi Goldberg. I haven't read Alice Walker's novel. I think the reason is because I find the film to be such a rewarding experience that I don't feel compelled to explore it further. The Color Purple is a powerful and sometimes disturbing film that is filled with raw emotion and well drawn characters that are supported by excellent direction and gripping performances by its ensemble cast. It is a marvelous piece of American Cinema that is justly deserving of the accolades bestowed upon it.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, language and thematic material that would be inappropriate for younger viewers.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 76

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 80

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

The Color Purple comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.1 Mbps.

This high definition presentation delivered fair to good overall image quality that appeared faithful to the film's original elements. Its high definition video offered an appreciable level of detail during close ups and select wide angle camera shots. The exterior shots of the southern filming locations looked vivid with naturally rendered colors and estimable but limited depth. The majority of the time the visuals didn't have a high level of image penetration. Sharpness was consistent but the video never attained what I would call lucid clarity. The variety of period colors and earth toned hues were reproduced cleanly and appeared gradationally satisfying. Blacks were punchy and contrast was stable which aided depth perception in low lit sequences. Grain was preserved naturally and is noticeable throughout. While this presentation lacks the polish of today's new movie releases coming to Blu-ray Disc, this encoding appears faithful to the film's original elements and looks decent in high definition.

The lossless soundtrack is almost entirely dialogue driven with the music score being the only other driving element. Quincy Jones' memorable score holds sway over the front soundstage and is presented with excellent imaging and open expression. The sound quality is on point and provides clear and concise voice reproduction and articulated front channel separation. The surrounds are used sparingly to broaden depth during exterior scenes and those that take place in the busy environment of the juke joint and during the choir sequence in the finale. Compared to today's movie soundtracks this presentation sounds a bit dated but I found little to complain about and thought it sounded fine.

Bonus Features:

  • Behind the story:

    1. Conversations with ancestors: The Color Purple from book to screen - 26 minute featurette
    2. A collaboration of spirits: Casting and acting The Color Purple - 28 minute featurette
    3. Cultivating a classic: The making of The Color Purple - 23 minute featurette
    4. The Color Purple: The musical - 7 minute featurette
  • Galleries - Behind the scenes/The cast

  • Trailers - Teaser 1&2, Theatrical

  • Comes packaged in a 40 page Blu-ray book with photos, talent files, production background and more

Final Thoughts:

The Color Purple is an engrossing and emotionally stirring film that is based on the Pulitzer Price winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker. Each time I watch it I find myself riveted by its powerful and sometimes disturbing story that is filled with raw emotion and superbly drawn characters which are supported by excellent direction and gripping performances by its ensemble cast. It makes its debut in high definition on Blu-ray Disc featuring faithful audio/video quality and the same bonus features found on the special edition DVD release. As a fan of the film I am glad to add this collectible Blu-ray release from Warner Home video to my video library. If you have never seen this marvelous piece of American Cinema I can't think of a better introduction than this. Recommended.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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22,474 Posts
This is one of those rare examples of a film that manages to stay true to the novel. The book is still better and far more detailed, but the film stays true to the feel of the story and much of the dialog.

4,418 Posts
As one of my favorite movies, I will be happy to add this to my collection.

22 Posts
Great review Ralph. I bought the DVD version several years ago and at least once a year, I watch this wonderful movie. Ralph, based on your score, do you think I'll gain a lot with the BluRay version compare with regular DVD? I'm tired to double dip every time these movies are available in Blu.

Blu-ray Reviewer
15,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Originally Posted by lardo /forum/post/19872554

Great review Ralph. I bought the DVD version several years ago and at least once a year, I watch this wonderful movie. Ralph, based on your score, do you think I'll gain a lot with the BluRay version compare with regular DVD? I'm tired to double dip every time these movies are available in Blu.


I would recommend that you rent it on Blu-ray and see what you think. That way you can determine whether the upgrade is worth it.


347 Posts
I agree with your take on this amazing film, Ralph, but I'm surprised that you don't also give props to Quincy Jones for the incredible soundtrack, except from a technical standpoint, which completes this film and rouses the emotions like few others.

The soundtrack is so integral to this film that it deserves a mention in any review. It's no wonder it is now also a musical, since it is such a natural progression from the fusion created by Spielberg and Jones on film.

1,593 Posts
Some people are meant to do one thing outstanding in life, for Whoopi Goldberg it was Celie. I watched this, I mean really watched this for the first time this weekend and it has stayed with me ever since. Such a powerful and moving movie. I'm very picky about what goes in my collection now but there is no doubt a place for this film.
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