Listen Live
HomeFeatures

Director Blitz Bazawule Talks Breaking Down & Rebuidling ‘The Color Purple’ For A New Generation

Dismiss
Urban One Honors w/ Mary J. Blige

The Color Purple is back in theaters, but this time, it’s a bit different than Stephen Spielberg’s 1985 film based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Director Blitz Bazawule understood the assignment when working on the 2023 movie version of the iconic piece of literature.

Bazawule is no stranger to pressure. He worked with Beyoncé on Black Is King, so when he was chosen to bring The Color Purple back to the big screen, he knew he would have to deliver something that recapture the same energy from the original film and book and bring something new.

After the 1985 film, The Color Purple went on to have a successful run on Broadway as a theatrical play, and that brings us to the 2023 film, which is based on the play and is a musical, but don’t get it twisted, it still sparks the same emotions as the book and original film.

Before The Color Purple’s release, CassiusLife spoke with Bazawule about working on the film.

Blitz Bazawule Admits It Required Bravery To Work On The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Source: Eli Ade / The Color Purple

Bazawule didn’t bite his tongue when admitting that working on a film of this magnitude, with the Black star power it boasts, was a challenge, noting that to deliver, he would “have to break the mold and rebuild it.”

“Absolutely. It was difficult. I mean, anything that has been a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, a Steven Spielberg movie, and a Tony Award-winning Broadway play, I mean, what else can you do? It was kind of my question to myself. So it was difficult,” Bazawule begins.

…even though I revere this text greatly, I’m going to have to break the mold and rebuild it, rebuild it for me, rebuild it for our generation…

“It required an incredible amount of bravery. I said, ‘Okay, even though I revere this text greatly, I’m going to have to break the mold and rebuild it, rebuild it for me, rebuild it for our generation, and find the nuance and things that are unique and new about how we see the world.’ And I think one of the things I landed on very early was Celie’s headspace and understanding that we can give her an imagination, and if we could give her that imagination, then we could see her working through her trauma, her abuse, and such.”

He continues, “And I think this generation understands that more. I mean, we have conversations about mental health in ways that have never been had in the past. We’re talking about generational trauma in ways that were never even discussed. There weren’t even words back then to describe what that is. So I think the audience today is very sophisticated and can understand this headspace conversation more.”

This One Scene Made Him Gasp

The Color Purple

Source: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / The Color Purple

Reading the book, watching the original movie, and seeing the Broadway play is one thing, watching it come to life behind the lens is another.

We asked the director if any scenes took his break away while making the movie, and he admits “there were several,” but there was one particular moment in the film that made him “gasp.”

“I’ll say Shug Avery coming on that barge. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I still gasp when I see that shot. Because first of all, Taraji,” Bazawule said to CassiusLife.

“And the fact that she’s been this legend, we’ve known her for so long, and twenty-plus years later, we get to discover a new Taraji is, for me, unbelievable.”

We’ve never seen a Black woman coming on a barge. I mean, it was like Cleopatra on the Nile.

He added, “But I’ll say that’s a shot that I remember being behind the monitor going, ‘This has never been seen before.’ We’ve never seen a Black woman coming on a barge. I mean, it was like Cleopatra on the Nile. And so, for me, I knew that it was going to be a moment of epic proportions. And from what the audience feedback has been, I think they really felt that.”

Bazawule’s Favorite Quote From The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Source: Eli Ade / The Color Purple

The Color Purple is also one of those pieces of literature full of memorable quotes, so, of course, we asked Bazawule if there was one that always sticks with him.

We were a bit surprised to learn that his favorite isn’t an original one, but we also understood why he chose this one because it comes from the film he made.

“For this version, I’ll say a quote that sticks with me is Danielle Brooks playing Sofia coming in and leaning into Mr. and going, ‘I came … ‘ I will have to paraphrase this. ‘I comes here for respect. But if there ain’t nothing to get, there ain’t nothing to give,’” Bazawule revealed.

The Color Purple arrives in theaters on Christmas Day. You can watch the full interview above.

Director Blitz Bazawule Talks Breaking Down & Rebuidling ‘The Color Purple’ For A New Generation  was originally published on cassiuslife.com