The Color Purple (UHD Blu-ray Review)

The Color Purple is being touted as a “bold new take on a beloved classic.” I find that interesting since the musical found in this new film version is the one that was on Broadway beginning in 2005. Having never seen this Broadway version, only hearing the music of the show, I must wonder what the differences are. The film unfortunately didn’t finish theatrically the way it started and garnered only one Oscar nod despite so many reasons for it to earn more than that. Read more about The Color Purple below and be sure click the cover art at the end for a paid Amazon link to get your own copy of the film.


Torn apart from her sister Nettie (Halle Bailey) and her children, Celie (Fantasia Barrino in her major motion picture debut, reprising her 2005 role from Broadway) faces many hardships in her life, including an abusive husband simply called Mister (Colman Domingo).  With the support of sultry singer Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson) and stand-her-ground stepdaughter Sofia (Danielle Brooks, Tony-nominated for the role on Broadway), Celie ultimately finds extraordinary strength in the unbreakable bonds of a new kind of sisterhood.

To know the origins of The Color Purple are to know that first we had Alice Walker’s groundbreaking novel. The themes, the subject matter, the open queerness… the whole novel had the destiny to be iconic and essential. When the film was adapted into a film in 1985 by none other than Steven Spielberg. Recent revisits have said the film is problematic on a few levels, but I don’t see the complaint being valid. Next we have the Broadway iteration, and it had a long run, winning awards and packing performances with huge audiences. This is what we get in the new 2023 adaptation for the screen. Music, scope, dance, drama, and all done extremely well.

Ghanan artist Blitz Bazawule helmed this new adaption of The Color Purple. Using his flare as a visual artist, he has taken a classic story and fleshed it out to immersive quality, taking you into Celie’s world, be it the real world sadness or her fantasy escapes. We also have the main trio of Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson and Danielle Brooks who absolutely nail their roles of Celie, Shug, and Sofia respectively.  They have elevated the performances in the original and not only have exceptional acting chops but can SING! They all have gorgeous voices. Barrino embodied her part for years on Broadway and acts with her whole body. Henson continues to show us she is worth the elevated pay she wishes actors of color could be receiving, and Brooks who also had her role on Broadway and was Tony nominated totally deserved her Oscar nod.

There is no mistaking the supporting cast either. Colman Domingo makes his Mr. even further savage than Danny Glover’s, while we see Halle Bailey, Ciara, H.E.R., Louis Gossett Jr., and Corey Hawkins give their smaller roles emotional weight and even more singing and dancing talent. The spectacle of the production also speaks volumes with set pieces giving way to full scale dream sequences and small Juke Joints becoming grand stages for world class dance and song. It would be a shame to denounce the film as anything less than excellent.

The story of the musical Color Purple chugs right along with a similar timeline to the 1985 film, while changing the film to be more in line with the novel. We finally get our queer love story, although it’s still more watered down than we’d like. We also get from the songs a positive outlook, which the film had to give in small bursts or wait until the ending to really hammer home.  I was particularly taken by Keep It Movin’, a song by Celie and her sister Nettie that embodies the idea of positivity, happiness and optimism that can’t help but be infectious.  It should be on the radio, or at least some sort of viral hit song.

The Color Purple did not deserve the strange audience criticism it received. Did people not watch the trailer? Had they not noticed the huge Broadway music hit had been around for over 10 years? Did people forget that the movie was also once a novel with a much more open lesbian love story within? I don’t know where viewers heads were at going into this movie and then coming out stunned that Celie falls in love with Shug or that the actors also break into song and dance as in all musicals. The failure at the box office to me is something shocking, simply because this film has such sheer optimism and is a celebration of female strength that almost anyone could find something to like in.  I feel that there should be a re-examination of this version sooner or later, and I hope it becomes a cult classic, because people should most certainly see the film.


Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

HDR: Dolby Vision

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Shot gorgeously in digital 4.5K, The Color Purple is a revelation. The disc sports gorgeous colors, tack sharp scenes and deep beautiful blacks.  I am so happy the film turned out as beautiful as it did, but even more, that despite the box office failure that Warner Bros. decided to give the film this 4K release and that it looks this gorgeous.

Depth:  Depth of field is exceptional. Background shots are just as lovingly rendered as foregrounds, and nothing looks off during the film. Excellent!

Color Reproduction: Gorgeous people of color in distinct beautiful costumes lavish and raggedly alike look beautiful. The Georgia Coast location is given tons of love too with beautiful blue water, murky swamps and striking greens.  Red and blue costuming also pops.

Black Levels: Perfect black levels abound. No crush in sight!

Flesh Tones: Every shade of brown is beautifully recreated.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English, French, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dynamics: The Color Purple comes with a commanding Dolby Atmos track. Taking us into the Georgia environment and moving within the real and fantasy worlds of Celie, we are immersed in sound, in music and with verve!

Height: Height channels expand the music soundscape along with ambience and sound effects. Celie’s pounding heartbeat always pulses from above.

Low-Frequency Extension: Music is the name of the game along with some serious sound effects work bring the Subwoofer into the fold for a lot of the film.  Excellent low end all around.

Surround Sound Presentation: Surround channels carry a lot of weight, be it singing, instruments, ambience or off camera dialogue.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue perfectly reproduced for the whole runtime.


Extras for The Color Purple are tiny and a little frustrating. The film ships with a slipcover and digital code, but no Blu-ray is included in this package.

  • Creating The Color Purple: A Bold New Take on the Beloved Classic (6:21) – Short, and not with much substance.
  • Hell Yes! The Iconic Characters of The Color Purple (7:00) – Another short piece on the actors portraying their characters.
  • In the Flow: Creating The Color Purple’s Biggest Musical Moments (8:03) – Director and songwriters come together to discuss the musical elements of the film.
  • A Story for Me: The Legacy of The Color Purple (6:38) – Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey discuss the legacy of the original film and how they feel about this new iteration.
  • Musical Moments (18 songs) – Direct scene jumping to all 18 tracks in the film.


I went into this musical version of The Color Purple with open eyes. I’d read the book and seen the film. I’d heard the songs and knew it was a musical thanks to a trailer and marketing.  I am now also glad I have the 4K UHD Blu-ray, which is slight on extras but rich in reference grade presentation.  This is the best way to see the film at home, and collectors who love musicals or want an eye-opening story of healing, unconditional love, reclaiming of time and resilience should see this film. Strongly recommended.

  1. No Comments