The Color Purple

1985 PG-13 2h 33m DVD

The Color Purple

1985 PG-13 2h 33m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
Whoopi Goldberg stars as Celie, a Southern woman whose correspondence with her sister in Africa helps her escape an abusive husband and a life of bitter circumstance. Steven Spielberg directs this Oscar-nominated adaptation of Alice Walker's novel.
Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Adolph Caesar, Willard E. Pugh, Rae Dawn Chong, Akosua Busia, Desreta Jackson, Dana Ivey, Leonard Jackson, Carl Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Bennet Guillory, Susan Beaubian
Steven Spielberg
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
English, French, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
PG-13 - Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.
age 14+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 14+
age 14+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that this intense drama is the adaptation of award-wining author Alice Walker's novel The Color Purple and deals with serious themes -- incest, marital abuse, overt racism and sexism -- that are not appropriate for young children. On the other hand, mature teenagers will benefit from seeing the movie, as it will open their eyes about the difficulties women -- especially black women -- experienced in the early 20th century. Many scenes include glimpses of violence and abuse, all against women, but here are also positive messages about the importance of women's relationships with other women, the power of the sisterly bond, and the human capacity to overcome oppression.

Sexual Content

Although there's no graphic sex, there are many references to sexual relationships, including adultery. One early sex scene focuses on close-ups of faces and a shaking headboard. Another conversation about sex contrasts a wife's miserable "grin and bear it" experience with a mistress' pleasurable one with the same man. Two female characters laugh, kiss, and caress each other, and the scene ends with the implication that they go on to make love, but it's not shown.


The story is full of verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. From the very first scene, when a 14-year-old girl painfully gives birth to a baby fathered by her own father, the abuse is near-constant in the young girl's life. In one of the movie's most emotional scenes, two sisters are painfully separated by an abusive man. The sex is usually disturbing and non-consensual. A barroom brawl leads to many characters punching each other and breaking furniture. One character almost slits another's throat with a straight razor, but is stopped in the nick of time.


Strong language is infrequent, but there is an occasional "s--t," "damn," "hell," and "ass," as well as the exclamation of "Jesus!"

Social Behavior

There are many messages in this Alice Walker adaptation, from the way women and African Americans were treated in the first half of the 20th century to the importance of keeping your dignity under the most difficult circumstances. Racism, sexism, marriage, sex, parenting, it's all explored in this multi-decade story. The movie has an underlying feminist theme about the importance of strong, unconditional relationships between women.


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Adults drink to excess and socially in several scenes in homes (usually at meals) and at nightclubs. Two male characters are shown drunk in a few scenes, and a few of the men smoke cigarettes and cigars.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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