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The Color Purple director says visually 'unmatched' movie musical will explore Celie's 'fertile' imagination

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The Color Purple movie musical is painting with many shades of Celie's mind, according to director Blitz Bazawule.

The filmmaker has revealed new details about the highly anticipated reimagining of Alice Walker's beloved novel, which features an ensemble cast including Fantasia Barrino in the lead role, plus Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, and Ciara.

"What we're really excited about with this version of The Color Purple is our ability to give Celie an imagination," Bazawule said Friday on GMA3: What You Need to Know, noting key differences in his interpretation of the story, which was previously brought to life in 1985 by Steven Spielberg.

"We know that that story has trauma," he continued. "What we know about people who deal with trauma is: The imagination is fertile, and that's how people overcome. It's also a musical, so we have the ability of music to explore where she is. Visually, it's unmatched."

THE COLOR PURPLE
THE COLOR PURPLE

Everett Collection; Kevin Winter/Getty Images Fantasia Barrino will play Celie in 'The Color Purple' movie musical, a role played by Whoopi Goldberg in the original 1985 film.

Bazawule draws inspiration from the 2005 stage musical also based on Walker's novel, though all three major adaptations follow the same general plot as Celie (Whoopi Goldberg in the original film) navigates life in the early-1900s American South.

Oprah Winfrey, who earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 1986 Oscars for her role as Sofia, produced Bazawule's version alongside Spielberg, Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones.

Winfrey made headlines back in June when she gave Bailey a bouquet of flowers as the young star — who plays a younger version of Ciara's Nettie — wrapped production on location.

"That's a wrap for me in The Color Purple," Bailey tweeted alongside a series of photos from the production. "I'm so very grateful to have had this experience, my second major motion picture complete in the last year. God is so good."

The Color Purple hits theaters Dec. 20, 2023.

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