The Color Purple (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Warner has spent a good part of their centenary dedicating themselves to restoring and putting out some of the best films in their history out on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format. The final entry this year (and I DO hope 2024 just keeps the ball rolling) is Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of The Color Purple that was nominated for 11 Academy Awards (Including Best Picture) will arrive on December 5th. It features a new restoration, archival bonus features and a new one about the upcoming musical film adaptation that is only on the digital version. You can order yourself a copy of the film by using the paid Amazon Associate link that follows the review.



An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South who survives incredible abuse and bigotry. After Celie’s abusive father marries her off to the equally debasing “Mister” Albert Johnson (Danny Glover), things go from bad to worse, leaving Celie to find companionship anywhere she can. She perseveres, holding on to her dream of one day being reunited with her sister in Africa. Based on the novel by Alice Walker.

In 2023, we surely would have done the initial adaptation to film of The Color Purple quite differently. Behind the camera, there would (hopefully) been hirings that felt more in tune with the material. The script also may have not shied away from the tougher and challenging aspects on the novel (I have not read the novel, but have read about the stuff that was “softened”). Even as it was, the film remains one that has a beautiful production, wonderful score, all-time great performances and still will move you to tears today.

Steven Spielberg even admitted he was out of his element here and question the film being offered to him. But what he could do was his job as one of the top directors and put together a top notch production. One of his other strengths he could bring was that of a collaborator with author Alice Walker as well as his cast and crew. What is made may not be the most honest or fully accurate depiction of the novel, but what we do get is a damn fine motion picture.

Perhaps even a greater strength than having one of history’s greatest director’s at the helm is the performance of Whoopi Goldberg. Everyone in the film is putting in career best work, but Whoopi is the driver of the film. What she has embodied here is a lightning in the bottle actor turned character. Its more than just her voice or a look or two, she has absolutely become Celie to a degree that there is absolutely zero Whoopi in there anymore. She has impressive movements, facial expressions and cadence even in the most background, unfocused frames of the film that add another layer to it and just wow you in terms of seeing it happen.

Growing up, I was in an 80s environment where The Color Purple was very important picture, seen as not only a step for representation but also an honest, brutal history lesson than many may never have been aware was an ugly prevalence during that era. It was also the moment where Steven Spielberg was seen as doing a film showcasing he could do more than just blockbuster/family entertainment. His first “serious’ picture. In the years following and probably more so in modern times, its been easy to pick apart for things that we’ve progressed beyond in 2023. But the film still remains quite a powerhouse on its own. An sweeping production with incredible performances, and a story that earns every bit of emotion you feel as the credits roll.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are from promotional images supplied by the studio, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: The Color Purple features a beautiful restoration and transfer in its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut. The softer cinematography looks lovely here with some of the nice glow and fog being handled expertly and maybe some of the best work with this type of lighting and photography translated to the format. It has a distinct palette and outstanding depth to carry the fine information noticed in every single frame.

Depth:  Depth of field is quite strong and features loads of spacing and grand scale on display. Movement is cinematic and natural with no issues of blur or jitter.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural and really one of the aspects that craft such a luscious image. The photography features magnificent work with shadow that is expertly displayed here. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite strong here. The rustic look is quite beautiful in its natural early 1900s Americana. Lots of browns, greens, golds, yellows and more. While colors are to appear more worn, they are still plenty bold. Obviously more vibrant fabrics pop, and the purple fields have a nice filter and radiancy that is pronounced. HDR glows on matches, fires and good colors that pop when contrasted with the shadows and night.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures are amazing here, like looking through glass. The sweat rather it be beads or drip come across lifelike as well as wrinkles, make-up lines and more with make-up effects not showing their strings at all.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital, German 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Czech 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Spanish (Latin American), Danish, Czech, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: The Color Purple carries the same 5.1 track it had on the standard Blu-ray. And that’s a good thing as its quite excellent. It has fantastic attention to detail and capturing of the dialogue. The layering and depth in the mix with the effects and ambiance portray a lifelike experience for the viewer. Perhaps the highlight here is how lovingly the score weaves in and out of all the channels and is quite pronounced (The song numbers in the film fare very well, too).

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer mainly is used to accentuate foley work, but primarily provides a nice added deep beauty to the score.

Surround Sound Presentation: This a really active track with good volume coming from the rear channels. Yes, most of the dialogue and action is up front, but the other channels help with travel and carry good offscreen activity and unique sounds.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


The Color Purple comes with a redeemable digital code. The only new featurette “The Color Purple: A Bold New Take”, is not on the disc, but only viewable through your digital redemption. All featurettes on the disc are archival and while encoded in HD, look like they came from an SD source.

Conversations with the Ancestors: The Color Purple from Book to Screen (HD, 26:40)

A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple (HD, 28:39)

Cultivating a Classic: The Making of The Color Purple (HD, 23:35)

The Color Purple: The Musical (HD, 7:36)


  • Teaser Trailer 2 (HD, 1:26)
  • Teaser Trailer 3 (HD, 1:15)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:24)


Perhaps today’s thinking might have done some things differently than 1985, but The Color Purple’s legacy has lived on quite strong and had conversations in both positive and critical lights, which is the more important aspect. Warner Bros has treated it right with a gorgeous new transfer to bring it to the 4K Ultra-HD format and end their 100 year celebration with home video releases on a high. An easy pick up when the price lands on the right deal for you.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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