The Color Purple Notes
1. Celie goes to a random baby to see if it is hers. Medium shot and deep focus. The angle is at eye level while the camera pans from right to left while also tracking Celie. The lighting is neutral and the sound is diegetic.
a. This shows the unconscious motives and the background of Celie as to why she immediately goes to a baby to see if it belongs to her. This has to deal with her childhood trauma, and how she has always wanted to know her kids but never has had the chance.
2. Celie tells Harpo to beat Sophia. Close-up of Harpo and then Celie. Rack focus of foreground. Low angle on Harpo, high angle on Celie. Makes Celie appear weak and Harpo more dominant. No camera movement. Neutral lighting and diegetic as well as nondiegetic sound (background score).
a. It is interesting that Celie decides that Harpo should beat Sophia. From past knowledge, it is known that Celie has been physically abused all her life. The fact that she suggests the same be done to someone else suggests that Celie thinks this is the best method to treat women or she subconsciously doesn’t want to be alone and be the only woman being abused.
3. Albert is still scared of his father even though physically he is larger. Medium shot of two circling each other and deep focus. Angle is at eye level. Camera zooms in when Albert is about to sit down. The lighting is neutral and sound is diegetic.
a. The viewer can infer that the senior male shows more dominance in their society. The fact that Albert “submits” to his father by sitting down first suggests Albert treats Celie the way he does because of the way he was treated when he was younger. He is unconsciously driven to do the same to his family.
4. Celie seems as if she is going to kill Mister after finding out about her sister’s hidden letters. Close-up of Celie sharpening the razor. She is in rack focus, since the background is out of focus. The angle is at eye level and the camera tracks Celie moving close to the razor sharpener. The lighting is low key, and the sound is diegetic and internal diegetic. The scene goes through crosscut editing of Celie, the African ceremony, and Shug running.
a. This scene is shocking because the movie does not lend the viewer to believe Celie will ever be able to do something so horrid. Celie’s true desires and emotions erupt in this scene and she decides to “treat other the way she’s been treated.”
5. Celie stands up to Mister at the dinner table. The shot has many close-ups of Celie with rack focus, bring her into focus and blurring the foreground. The angle is at eye level and the sound is diegetic and nondiegetic. The lighting is neutral.
a. Celie finally stands up for herself without violence. It seems as if it were Celie’s internal desire her whole team to just speak her mind and live her life free from Mister.
6. Sophia is “brought back to life,” so to speak. Harpo says, “It ain’t good for a woman to laugh at a man,” and right after Sophia starts laughing slowly, and then more fully. The scene has multiple close-ups of the expressions of the people at the table and the focus is deep. The angles are at eye level and the sound is diegetic.
a. Sophia was always full of energy until she was finally beaten and put into jail. The viewer sees Sophia only needed another woman to stand up for herself to bring her “back to life.”
7. Mister pays for Nettie’s return with the only money he has left. Long shot, deep focus, eye level angle. The camera pans form left to right and the sound is diegetic.
a. The viewer may ponder as to why Mister would do something so generous for Celie. When examining this further, it would be more appropriate to state that Mister did this for Shug rather than Celie. The unconscious motives that made Mister do this were an expression of how Mister feels about Shug.
1. Celie giving birth. Her dad asks, “Ain’t you done yet?” Medium shot with deep focus. The angle is at eye level and the lighting is low-key.
a. This portrays the treatment of African-American women during the early 1900’s. The fact that Celie’s dad impatiently waits for her fourteen year old daughter to give birth shows how inconsiderate men are towards women. Women are treated like animals, maybe even worse.
2. Celie’s dad and Mister negotiating on who Mister can have, Celie or Nettie. Medium shot, deep focus, with no camera movement. The lighting is high key.
a. In this scene, they are essentially treating women like property. The negotiation on who Mister can have and that neither daughter has any say in what they prefer demonstrates the horridness of the reality during that time.
3. Celie packing, determined to go to Memphis with Shug. This is a tracking/dolly shot of Celie as she hurriedly packs. The lighting is neutral, there is deep focus, and a medium shot.
a. This scene is powerful as it is a high-paced, tracking shot as Celie desperately tries to get all her things together so she can leave Mister. This shows the first step of Celie doing something about her hard life, even though she does not go through it. This event seems like the only way Celie can escape from her old life.
4. White woman asks Sophia if she wants to be her maid. Sophia replies, “Hell, no.” Close-up of Sophia when she replies. There is rack focus, with the foreground in focus. The lighting is high-key.
a. The reason this scene has much significance is the fact that this scene specifically is about the treatment of African-American women. Sophia is standing up for herself as a woman and as an African-American. All her life, Sophia has been fighting, so her natural response is to fight back to injustice.
5. Celie about to kill Mister after finding out about her sister’s hidden letters. Close-up of Celie sharpening the razor. She is in rack focus, since the background is out of focus. The angle is at eye level and the camera tracks Celie moving close to the razor sharpener. The lighting is low key, and the sound is diegetic and internal diegetic. The scene goes through crosscut editing of Celie, the African ceremony, and Shug running.
a. This scene shows how much power women can actually exhibit. All her life, Celie has been treated unfairly. When she finally stands up for herself, however, she takes it one step further than Albert did. Shug, on the other hand, realizes this and as a result stops Celie from doing something that could actually cause more trouble in her life. What the unfair treatment of women can lead to is clearly demonstrated in this scene.
6. After Shug stops Celie from killing Mister, Mister says, “Damn women.” This shows irony. Medium shot of Shug holding Celie’s hand with the knife. The angle is at eye-level and the lighting is low-key.
a. Albert says, “Damn women,” as if women are the problems for everything that has happened so far. This is ironic as it obviously the men who have been causing problems for the women. The scene shows how Albert automatically blames the women without a second thought. The thought that at least one woman may have saved his life or helped him does not cross his mind.
7. Celie cusses Mister out and Sophia is “resurrected.” The shot has many close-ups of Celie with rack focus, bring her into focus and blurring the foreground. The angle is at eye level and the sound is diegetic and nondiegetic. The lighting is neutral.
a. When Celie finally stands up for herself, Sophia comes back to her senses. The feminist lens can provide many reasons for why this triggered Sophia to become herself again. A main reason would be the fact she finally saw someone who has never questioned or rebelled against their patriarchal society actually stand up for herself.