family ties

Witch & Popcorn

July, 2018

 

Bright Blessings, movie lovers!

This time, I reviewed a film that is considered by some to be one of the top films of all time, and is celebrated as a story of women’s empowerment in a time when women’s rights were still being fought for. It is also a story of love, the ties of family, and the power of women’s magic.

The Color Purple.

Here is a trailer:

The story follows the life of Celie, from her tragic beginnings to her personal triumphs after reclaiming the strength that was beaten out of her.

Her sexuality was robbed of her until she took it back.

Her belief she was beautiful was taken from her until a soul sister showed it to her, and kept at it until Celie believed.

Her sister and children were taken from her until she used magic to instill understanding in the one man who had the power to see to it she got her family back.

A dominant theme was that in the world Celie was born into, the men had the power to make decisions, but it was the women who made life happen.

Almost all of the men in the film were either emotionally crippled, selfish, stupid, lazy, or rapists. They relied very heavily on the women to feed, clothe, clean them, give them children, and take care of said children. The women were the ones who made a house more than a filthy shack with tattered walls, and it was the women who brought happiness. The women were the ones who created, and facilitated relationships through gatherings, healing the sick, forgiving ugly behaviors, ignoring nasty remarks, being beautiful, making music, and giving the unconditional love that makes it worth it to get out of bed in the morning.

The women in The Color Purple are shining examples of family matrons, and mother goddesses. Without them, there is nothing.

Two of the men redeemed themselves in the film, because they allowed the women to reach into them, and pull the good out. Harpo, who finally acknowledged the goddess in his beloved, Sophia, intimately played by Oprah Winfrey, realized his wrongs, and did all the things he needed to in order to correct them.

Mister, who was abused by his father from childhood, lived to become an abuser himself, but he sees the err of his ways, and changes. He redeemed himself too late, and while he was the one who brought Celie back with her family, he had hurt Celie too much for her to be able to trust him again. The pain of the boy who never truly grew into a man because he was never allowed to love, and be who he was is beautifully portrayed by Danny Glover.

The theme of men being threatened by women’s strength, wisdom, power, and bonds was painfully explored by author Alice Walker, a champion of women’s rights. She, herself was subject to abuse at the hands of men in her own family, and was neglected due to boys being favored. She was able to explore the damage that dysfunction creates, while providing a happy ending for everybody in the film, even the men who hurt innocent people.

Early in the film, it is established Celie has the power to keep the people she loves close to her, no matter what anybody else does to her. Her two children are taken away from her by her step father, but she always longs for them. Her sister, Nettie is separated from her by Mister, but both Nettie and Celie hold onto faith that “not even death” can keep them apart.

Because of Nettie and Celie’s will they stay united, the powers that be bring Celie’s two children together with Nettie when she has to flee when Mister banished her. The emotional reunion of the whole family, with Mister looking on, significantly aged from losing Celie, won’t leave a dry eye in the house, and I would advise you have a full box of tissues, something to cuddle, and chocolate when you watch this film.

Connection to the ancestors, and what Walker refers to as “The Motherland”, in Nettie’s case, Africa is elaborated in the film. Once Nettie goes to Africa, she sees the good and bad of the indigenous way of life. The good shares the knowledge of where you came from, who you are, and the interconnectedness of all those who are part of your tribe and family.

As Celie is ripped from family, she creates her own tribe. Sister friend Shug both needed Celie’s healing, and continued sisterhood. As she was seen as a “star” by all but Celie, who saw the humanity and brokenness in Shug, there was nobody she could confide in like she did Celie. In the same way, Shug saw all the untapped potential in Celie everybody else was blind to.

Shug’s pain lies in the fact her father rejected her, took away her children, and banished her from the family. He, a preacher, considered her unclean, having had children out of wedlock. Years later, through persistence, Shug is able to reconcile with her father. I know everybody hates spoilers, but I cannot help but share the link to the very moving scene where the reconciliation happens.

Another member of Celie’s adopted tribe, Miss Sophia, who married Mister’s son, Harpo is a shining example of the kind of powerful woman the men felt threatened by. Women are told from the time they are girls to be agreeable, conform, be small and quiet, and submit. Sophia is quite the opposite, and no amount of beating down keeps her down for long. She goes through a short period where she behaves as a shell of a woman, because of severe trauma that lasts for years. But when Celie finally comes out, and reclaims her own power, she gives Sophia the strength to reclaim her own.

In contrast with the beauty of Africa, an example of the things Nettie is shocked about in Africa is that like men, and white people in the rural South in the early 20th century, indigenous African tribal people portrayed in the film did not believe in allowing females to attend school. Reading, and learning anything besides having babies and keeping house was forbidden for girls in the tribal village where Nettie lived. Nettie, Celie, and other women in both Africa and America in the film defied that taboo, to rise to individuality, and freedom from oppression.

A recurring theme of one of the ways Mister keeps Nettie from Celie is his confiscation of letters Nettie sends Celie year after lonely year. Mister understands the power of the written word, and for decades, hid the letters in a plank under the floor in his closet. Nettie, allowed to go to school, would come home, and teach Celie to read, and it is because of this, once Celie and Shug find Nettie’s letters, Celie’s healing begins.

The first time Celie reads Nettie’s letter, Celie’s transformation begins. Although she fears what atrocities will happen to her if Mister discovers she has defied him, she continues reading her letters. One by one, Celie’s righteous anger wells up, and she grows stronger and stronger. Her strength peaks at the Easter Supper- a dinner celebrating resurrection of the divine dead into eternal life- that Celie tells Mister what he deserves to hear, leaves Mister, and physically places a curse on him. “I curse you. Until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble.” She elaborates it a second time after Shug physically removes Celie from the house to get her to safety.

That curse works, and is broken only when Mister does right by Celie.

The binds of mothers with children, and sisters as well as the relationship to the continent where generations of ancestors lived, are buried, and their bodies create the very soil walked upon all explore the bond of blood. For some, blood really IS thicker than water.

This powerful magic confirms what magical practitioners have always known. The will of love is more powerful than the will to destroy. Not even death can separate what is united in love.

While many reviewers have seen this as simply a story of women’s empowerment, I see the magic and witchery in it, and the power of women to be the physical embodiment of the goddess on earth.

I have watched this film probably a dozen or more times in my life, as well as read the book it is based on. I recommend both.

Blessed Be, and happy movie watching!

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About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel