When Steven Spielberg took on directing Alice Walker’s acclaimed novel The Color Purple in 1985, many wondered whether he was the man for the job, as back then he was just known for his big entertainment pieces.
While most felt he dealt pretty well with the story of a young African American woman in the 1900s, he got a lot of criticism for pretty cutting down the lesbian aspects of the relationship between Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) and Shugg Avery (Margaret Avery). While there is a single scene where the two kiss, that’s about it.
With both Tintin and War Horse due out in the US in the next few weeks, Spielberg has been talking to Entertainment Weekly, and during the interview he touched on how he’d toned the lesbian aspects of The Color Purple.
He says, “There were certain things in the [lesbian] relationship between Shug Avery and Celie that were very finely detailed in Alice’s book, that I didn’t feel we could get a [PG-13] rating. And I was shy about it. In that sense, perhaps I was the wrong director to acquit some of the more sexually honest encounters between Shug and Celie, because I did soften those. I basically took something that was extremely erotic and very intentional, and I reduced it to a simple kiss. I got a lot of criticism for that.”
However, when asked if he do it differently if he had the chance, he says, “I wouldn’t, no. That kiss is consistent with the tonality, from beginning to end, of The Color Purple that I adapted.”