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The Color Purple (2023) (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A Black woman in Jim Crow Georgia faces multiple abuses, moving forward in life through the help of the memory of her long-lot sister and a newfound ally.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

This musical remake of the Alice Walker novel The Color Purple, originally brought to screen in 1985 by Steven Spielberg, and first brought to the stage as a musical, tells the story of two Black sisters in Jim Crow Georgia, Celie (Fantasia Barrino) and Nettie Harris (Ciara) who escape their physically and sexually abusive father. Celie ends up in an abusive marriage with a local man named Albert “Mister” Johnson (Colman Domingo) who also chases away Nettie after he tries to sexually assault her. The sisters lose touch over decades, in which Celie suffers under the boot of Mister before gaining some liberation when Mister’s mistress, the famous roadhouse blues singer Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson) breezes into town and takes a liking to Celie while turning the usually bullying man into a sniveling househusband.

Blitz Bazawule (Black is King) has done a brilliant job stepping into the shoes of Steven Spielberg and ensuring that this version of Walker’s classic novel stands toe-to-toe with the 1985 heavyweight. He coaxes masterful performances out of the cast who also shine in their roles stepping into the place of actors who are now megastars: Fantasia Barrino taking over from Whoopi Goldberg, Colman Domingo in for Danny Glover, Danielle Brooks in for Oprah Winfrey and Taraji P. Henson in for Margaret Avery. Barrino is a standout, which is unsurprising, infusing so much passion in her vocals, but the surprise is the bluesy and charismatic performance of “Sister” by Taraji P. Henson.

This version of The Color Purple bucks the trend of remakes being inferior to the original It has the added benefit of being based on the original Broadway musical, which itself could have been a detriment. There have been many attempts at bringing Broadway musicals to the screen that were less than successful, to put it mildly. Do we even have to mention Cats? Bazawule not only handles the move from stage to screen without a hitch, without trying to make the film seem like it is a stage musical. There are moments where the musical numbers feel out of place and time against the almost flawless production that places us in the period, even as the music remains passionately performed.

Even with the music and added subplots in the final act, this version of the film is still a powerful and difficult film that does not skirt the major issues. In fact, some of the scenes may even go a little further than Spielberg’s version. Still, this is surprisingly good in comparison to the 1985 version, so take your pick. One is straight Golden Age-style Hollywood drama, one is a modern age musical, and both are worth watching.

Purchase The Color Purple (2023) 4K Ultra HD + Digital on Amazon.com

  • Danielle Brooks in The Color Purple (2023)
  • 
Halle Bailey and Phylicia Pearl Mpasi in The Color Purple (2023)
  • Taraji P. Henson in The Color Purple (2023)
  • The Color Purple 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Warner Bros.)
  • The Color Purple 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Warner Bros.)

The Video

The Color Purple was shot on the Arri Alexa LF Arri Alexa Mini LF with Arri Signature Prime lenses in ARRIRAW 4.5K resolution. A 4K digital intermediate was used and the film was mastered with Dolby Vision for a 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) encodement. There is a MaxLL of 292 nits and a MaxFALL of 84 nits, so there is not much added brightness, but the image is still superb, with nuanced detail in the shadows and just enough added ‘pop’ in the highlights, such as in the juke joint scene. There is nothing to complain about in this transfer – it is clean, sharp, and shows a lot of detail and color vibrancy.

The Audio

The Color Purple is given a strong lossless Dolby Atmos audio mix that underpins the various musical numbers with a beefy low-end, wide panning and excellent use of the height channels for atmospherics and room ambience. The dialogue is full and clean, but this mix is best with the warm bass. big drums, easy-sounding cymbals and airy strings for the score and songs.

The Supplements

The featurettes that Warner Bros. include on the 4K Ultra HD include interviews with cast and crew, including an interview with Steven Spielberg by Oprah Winfrey.

Bonus Features:

  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code
  • Creating The Color Purple: A Bold New Take on the Beloved Classic (1080p; 00:06:21)
  • Hell Yes! The Iconic Characters of The Color Purple (1080p; 00:07:00)
  • In the Flow: Creating The Color Purple’s Biggest Musical Moments (1080p; 00:08:03)
  • A Story for Me: The Legacy of The Color Purple (1080p; 00:06:38)
  • Musical Moments

The Final Assessment

The Color Purple stands up well to the 1985 film with standout performances, memorable songs, and magnificent audio and visuals. Highly recommended.


The Color Purple (2023) is out on 4K Ultra HD + Digital March 12, 2023 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment

Purchase The Color Purple (2023) 4K Ultra HD + Digital on Amazon.com


  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for mature thematic content, sexual content, violence and language.)
  • Studios & Distributors: Amblin Entertainment | Harpo Films | Quincy Jones Productions | Scott Sanders Productions | Warner Bros. | Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment
  • Director: Blitz Bazawule
  • Written By: Marcus Gardley | Alice Walker | Marsha Norman
  • Run Time: 141 Mins.
  • Street Date: 12 March 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
    • MaxLL: 292 nits
    • MaxFALL: 84 nits
    • Max. Luminance: 1000 nits
    • Min. Luminance: 0.0001 nits
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible)
  • Secondary Audio: English DD 5.1 | English Descriptive Audio | French DD 5.1 | Spanish DD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Spanish
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A Black woman in Jim Crow Georgia faces multiple abuses, moving forward in life through the help of the memory of her long-lot sister and a newfound ally. The Color Purple (2023) (4K UHD Review)