The Big Read presents the Movie: The Color Purple

By Diana Berman

The San Miguel Big Read presents our second program featuring Alice Walker, who will present a keynote address at the Writers’ Conference on Wednesday, February 11, at 6pm, in the Real de Minas ballroom. Alice Walker won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, The Color Purple. The movie based on her book features an all-star cast including Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey, and was directed by Steven Spielberg. It garnered eleven Academy Award nominations in 1985.

The film tells the story of a young African American girl named Celie and shows the problems many black woman faced during the period of 1909-1949 including poverty, racism, and sexism.

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the movie is, “triumphantly emotional and brave. [It] is a plea for respect for black women. It takes an incredibly strong stand against the way black men treat black woman. Cruel is too kind a word to describe their behavior.” This portrayal of black men led to vociferous criticism of the film by black critics who felt that the portrayal of black men only fed the stereotypes many people already felt about them. Walker, on the other hand, felt that her book and the movie represented a reality that she experienced and felt needed to be exposed. The release of the book and movie were a painful time for Walker. In her book, The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker, she talks about the role of an author and asks, “When is it possible to write a personal novel about your experience without having to represent a particular race, gender, or religion?”

Roger Ebert wrote, “Celie is a woman cruelly treated by the world, a shy, frightened creature whose whole life consists mostly of eluding the men who want to rape and beat her. Her eventual flowering provides one of the most joyous experiences I have had at the movies; the scene when she is coaxed and persuaded and finally teased into smiling is the turning point of the story, one of those moments when we see humanity shining out of the screen upon us. The affirmation at the end of the film is so joyous that this is one of the few movies in a long time that inspired tears of happiness and earns them. The Color Purple is the year’s best film.”

You are invited to join us for this exceptionally wonderful and thought provoking film.

Presumed Innocent

The Big Read is also showing Presumed Innocent, a movie based on the suspenseful and authoritatively written novel of the same name by Scott Turow. This showing will take place at the Shelter Theater at 7 PM on January 28. The movie features a riveting performance by Harrison Ford in a suspenseful courtroom drama. Scott Turow will present an address to the San Miguel Writers’ Conference on Thursday, February 12, at 6pm, in the Real de Minas ballroom. For complete information about the Writers’ Conference, visit


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