- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Spanish (Castilian)Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Spanish (Latin American) Dolby Digital 1.0, Portuguese Dolby Digital 1.0, Polish Dolby Digital 1.0
- Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish
- Rating: PG-13
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Blu-ray Release Date: January 25th, 2011
- List Price: $34.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
When I was a young man in high school, I was brought before the headmaster by my English Literature teacher because I had an uncanny ability to get away with not reading the books she’d assigned yet still manage to pass the written exams. It wasn’t because I was using Cliff’s notes or anything like that, I just knew that all literature followed certain fundamental themes and it was easy for me to piece those together, but I digress. When facing down my teacher and my headmaster and asked why I wouldn’t read the books, I quite bluntly responded, “because I don’t like them.” Which was true, I didn’t like the majority of the books I was assigned to read in junior high and high school, so I had a personal policy of reading only the ones that piqued my interest. They were few, but they were good ones, like The Catcher in the Rye, Ragtime, Tom Sawyer, The Count of Monte Cristo, and, the one we are covering here, The Color Purple.
Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel compellingly captured the often harrowing experience of Blacks in the post-Civil War, turn of the century era south. Written almost completely in letter form, she captured the cadence of the dialect, mood of the era, and the spirit of a generation.
I don’t know that Steve Spielberg’s film adaptation is completely successful at converting that story to the big screen, but what film is ever as good as its source novel? What I do know is that The Color Purple on film is filled with one riveting performance after another, from then relatively unknown Whoopi Goldberg to an as yet to be as influential Oprah Winfrey and a much more youthful Danny Glover.
The story follows Celie (Goldberg), a southern black woman, sexually abused by her father, raised to believe she is ugly, and forced into a marriage of servitude and physical abuse with Mister (Glover). Celie has nothing but her hopes that one day she will see her sister again to keep her going, but along the way she finds champions in a juke joint singer named Shug (Margaret Avery) and her son-in-law’s wife Sofia (Winfrey), eventually coming out of her shell and freeing herself from the prison that is the marriage she was forced into.
The Color Purple is a somber and poignant look at the black experience in the rural south and it garnered 11 Academy Award nominations in 1985, including Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role (Goldberg), and Best Cinematography.
The Color Purple arrives on Blu-ray in a AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encoding from Warner. It’s only the third or fourth AVC encoding I can recall from the studio, but it seems they are using the codec more and more recently. In any case, the bitrate hovers around 18Mbps, and it seems this low bitrate may have have had a bad effect on the overall image. It never quite yields a sharp look, with detail not extending very far into the background and grain level looking a bit noisy at times. The overall presentation does look clean and film-like, but this is not one of the stronger catalogue releases we have seen on Blu-ray.
The main audio track is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. There’s nothing particularly exciting about this dialogue-drive, front-heavy mix, but the sound comes alive with Quincy Jones’ beautiful score that fills the soundtsage and is bolstered by a good amount of ambience in the surround channels. One deficit is that the high frequencies in the musical instrumentation sound just a bit tweaked.
The packaging says “hours of bonus materials,” which is technically true, but really there are only three featurettes on here worth watching that only add up to about an hour-and-a-half worth of viewing time, but at least they feature members of the cast like Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg himself, as well as musical producer and composer Quincy Jones.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Behind the Story:
- Conversations with Ancestors: The Color Purple from Book to Screen (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:26.39) – Alice Walker talks about writing the Color Purple and the process of bringing the story to the screen.
- A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:28.40) – Spielberg and others discuss the task of casting the roles for The Color Purple.
- Cultivating a Classic: The Making of The Color Purple (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:23.33)
- The Color Purple: The Musical (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:07.34) – Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, and others discus the film’s musical aspects.
- Galleries (1080p):
- Behind the Scenes
- The Cast
- Teaser Trailer #1(1.78:1; 480i/60)
- Teaser Trailer #2 (1.78:1; 480i/60)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 480i/60)
- Blu-ray Book: The deluxe Blu-ray Book packaging contains 40 illustrated pages featuring actor bios, production stills and more. It makes for a handsome addition to any collection or a nice coffee table book.
The Definitive Word
The Color Purple arrives in a deluxe Blu-ray Book package from Warner just in time for Black History Month. This beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted film is a must for any serious film enthusiast. More than just a movie, it is a timeless piece of Americana.
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