8 November 2004 | butterfinger
Steven Spielberg is, ironically, the most unfairly underrated man in Hollywood. There are so many directors that are content to make blatantly unoriginal works but Spielberg is the most original and ethical crowd-pleaser in America. And yet he is considered one of the men who ruined cinema. People complain that his Jaws was so successful that it encouraged producers to make hackwork movies that will undoubtedly make millions (bringing Hollywood cinema to where it is today). First of all, George Lucas's Star Wars is more responsible for this. Secondly, who are we to blame Spielberg for the deeds of the producers/filmmakers who were (superficially) influenced by him? What annoys me even more than this is that so few people realize that his films keep getting better as his career goes on (with the exception of Schindler's List, Amistad, the Jurassic Park movies, and Saving Private Ryan). Jaws is probably his least impressive extremely impressive film he has made. The Color Purple, for example, which was made in the 80s, is one of his best films to date. It is so dripping with complexity and detail; it differs from Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan in the sense that, when you watch it, you don't think, 'Oh this is a movie about the life of an African American family in the early twentieth century.' 'Themes' and 'topics' fade away and the film just becomes
life. It is about people, not historical figures. Danny Glover plays Albert, a nasty man who marries Celie (Whoopi Goldberg). He is furiously disappointed with the fact that he did not get to marry Netti (Akosua Busia), Celie's sister. As a result, he beats Celie and, as a result of that, Celie becomes painfully quiet and unable to smile without putting her hand in front of her mouth. The relationship between Celie and Albert is hard-hitting, melancholic, and funny. Neither character is treated cartoonishly and both actors play their characters with fairness and delicacy. This is not a work of easy melodrama. It makes you think about subjects such as femininity, the black population's quest for independence at the beginning of the new century, and the eruption of violence in a relationship without ever cheating or faltering a single step.