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January 16, 1986 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-16

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The Michigan Daily

Thursday, January 16, 1986

Page 5

A not so bright


By Seth Flicker
T IS A VERY dangerous matter
S when a director has to choose bet-
ween serving the public, and serving
Wimself. Steven Spielberg has this
problem. After mega-hits such as'
E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark and
Gremlins, Spielberg made an unwrit-
.en promise to his audiences - to
produce high budget, overly sen-
sational movies that reach beyond
your wildest fantasies. What happens
when lVMr. Spielberg wants to move on
to more serious ventures but is afraid
of breaking this promise to his
audience? The ' product is an awe-
inspiring spoof of a very serious topic
such as seen in The Color Purple.
As you enter the theater you think
to yourself, "Wow, Steven Spielberg
is directing a serious film. He's.
finally getting out of his shell and,
boy, are we in for a big surprise." Un-
fortunately, the surprise is that
Spielberg has not changed at all. The'
Color Purple is as loud and as
awesome as. E.T., but the difference
between E.T. and The'Color Purple is
that E.T. is supposed to be mind-
blowing while The Color Purple is not.
The Color Purple is based on Alice
Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning
.novel. Walker's Purple examines the

oppression 'of (black) women, the
segregation of blacks and whites, and
the different relationships that evolve
in the early 20th century South. But
Spielberg brings these all out but in a
way that insults the audience.
The most vivid example of this is
.shown in the relationshop between
Celie, the main character, and Mat-
tie, her sister. Their deep love for
each other is shown repetitively by a
patty-cake type game they play. Mr.,
Celie's husband, tears them apart
from each other (literally) in a scene
that seems utterly endless. Celie and
Nettie cling on to trees and poles,
scrape across the ground until Mr..
finally tosses Nettie off his property.
But the scene still continues as Nettie .
and Celie once more play their patty-
cake game as. Nettie stumbles down
the road screaming too many times,
"Only death can keep me away from
Enough is enough. The viewer
realizes their love for each other and
the hurt felt when they are torn apart,
but Spielberg drags this scene out'till'
the point where it becomes a joke, and
an insult to the audience.
One just has to suppose that
Spielberg thought that if he added the
same awe-inspiring effects of Indiana
Jones and applied them to a serious
film, then an Oscar is on its way. This

thinking was the actual pitfall of this
movie. Celie is in a church reading a
letter from her sister. She turns
around then--Pow-Spielberg moves
you to a church in Africa where a
giant bulldozer breaks down a wall.
Each scene was so drawn out that in-.
stead of feeling'for the characters you
just want to laugh at the over produc-
Celie, played by comiedienne-gone-
actress Whoopi Goldberg, is an op-
pressed black woman who is raped by
her step-father and ' forced into
marriage with Mr. (Danny Glover).
Goldberg is Spielberg's E.T. Like
E.T., Celie is also an outsider: she's
black, she's a woman and she's ugly.
Goldberg hardly says anything in the
first half of the film. She hides her
hand over her mouth, she goggles her
huge eyes, but you like her. No matter
what she does, you still come out of
the theater liking her and for that
reason, Whoopi Goldberg is the best
actor of the cast. It is Spielberg him.
self who desecrates the character of
Celie. The Color Purple is basically
how Celie views her world. Spielberg
transforms this into how her .world
views Celie. Because of this the movie
is no longer The- Color Purple, but
Spielberg's own concoction.
Glover, who plays Celie's .abusive
and destructive husband, is void of

personality and at a complete loss for
words. One could sense that Glover
felt awkward in this role. The
relationship between Celie and Mr. is
another portion of the book which
Spielberg transforms. We are looking
through Celie's eyes and we feel what
.Celie feels including her hatred of
men. By the end of Walker's Color
Purple, Celie comes to the realization
that, all men are not bad but in
Spielberg's Purple, Celie never gets
to this realization. Because of this, we
feel a sense of emptiness at the end
of the film.
The rest of the ensemble are merely.
cartoon characters. There's 'Harpo
(Willard Pugh), Mr.'s son. He's the
klutz who trips down stairs and falls
through roofs. His wife Sofia is played
by Oprah Winfrey. Though having
many strong, well-played scenes at
the beginning of the film, she is the
epitome of the loud, overbearing wife.
" Shug, Mr.'s' lover who eventually
releases Celie from her oppression, is
played exuberantly and surprisingly
well by Margaret Avery. Unlike most
of the ensenible, Avery was well cast.
She was both sexy and motherly, but
not overly so. She was one of the only
characters that could be taken
seriously, proven in a very difficult
scene that was surprisingly suc-
cessful, the lesbian encounter bet-

Comedienne Whoopi Goldberg stars in her first serious role as Celle in
Stephen Spielberg's adaptation of Alice .Walker's novel depicting the
rural Black South of the early 20th century, 'The Color Purple', playing
now at Briarwood.

ween Celie and Shug. Spielberg uses a
fine balance of a motherly and sexual
touch . to make this scene both
plausible and serious.
After viewing The Color Purple one

has to ponder whether there actually
is a serious side to Steven Spielberg.-
We won't know until his next serious
venture, but one thing is for sure,
Spielberg will have to alter his
promise to his audience.

Ark floats with Crossland


By Joseph Kraus
U NIVERSITY junior and Bursley
residential advisor Dave
Crossland made a triumphant solo
debut concert at the Ark on Tuesday
in front of an audience of over 150.
Having distinguished himself at last
year's Starbound competition as well
as at last seme'sters open -mike nights
at the Ark, Crossland won the right to
headline his own show. In spite of the
rather steep admission price of $5, fie
attracted a larger audience to the Ark
established folk circuit performers.
And judging from the two encores
the audience demanded, most of them
thought they.got their money's worth.
Accompanying himself on guitar
and occasionally. harmonica, he
played a varied selection' of
traditional, contemporary, and
original folk songs.
His versions of such lesser classics
as "Streets of London" by Ralph Mc-
Tell and. "Vegematic" by Steve.
Goodman were lively and cleverly
done. His "Johnny, I Hardly Knew
Ya" and a pair of Woody Guthrie
songs showed he knows the tradition
he's working out of.
But the highlights of the show were

certainly his original compositions.
Beginning with one named "Summer
Song," which he called his first serious
song, he demonstrated he had enough
faith in his own material to overcome
the nervousness that anybody in his
shoe's would have felt.
But the best was 'yet to come.
"Seija," a song to an old girlfriend,
was as beautiful as it had been when
he was a surprise opening act for Tom
Paxton last week.
"I Don't Know Where I'm Going,"
which he claims was originally writ-
ten to be played by an entire
bluegrass band, showed he could work
.with a fast-paced song as well as.his.
rhore frequent ballads.
His clever story of having to com-
pose "The Drear.y Leary Blues" for
an English teacher in high school as a
last-minute homework assignment
turned the lighthearted parody into
one of the mostmemorable songs of
the evening.
Crossland's patter was often clever,
but inconsistent. Where stories about
his having snuck into Steve Good-
man's dressing room last year made
him seem a polished veteran, he was
at a virtual loss other times.
Early in the show he got some
mnileage out of. his own tongue-

tiedness by assuming. another voice
and calling, "Just play it, Dave," but
it often wasn't until he continued per-
forming that he was able to fully
regain his composure.
Crossland probably made
something of a tactical error when he
invited audience members to suggest
songs for him to play. As one or
another of his fans suggested "City of
New Orleans" or Cat Stevens'
"Father and Son", he gradually lost
his own sense of continuity.
In addition, while "Early Morning
Rain" and "Father and Son" were
technically fine versions of the well-
known songs, they tended to lack the
inspiration of his more polished
covers and originals.
By the end of the show Crossland
had so exhausted hiinself that he was
unable to stay in the right key for.
"Hobo's Ltllabye," - his second en-
core - indicating he should have
stopped a song or two earlier.
But whatever flaws there were in
- the show *hardly diminshed its suc-
cess. In some cases, mistakes such as
his forgetting the words to various
songs seem to have endeared him to
the audience, giving him a chance to
let his exuberance make up for

The indisputable success of
Crossland's show bodes well both for
the future-of student folk music at the
Un.iversity and for his own promising
It's hard to say, what's next for
Crossland - his, brand of music
doesn't usually receive the audience
it deserves and needs to thrive - but
he's made an auspicious. beginning.
With the following he was able to
muster for his show~, it looks as if he'll
have a few more local gigs before the
semester is through, and with the
show he was able to put on, it looks as
if those gigs will be something special.

The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts is interviewing
students interested in working for a fundraising telethon calling
LS&A alumni.across the country. The telethon runs five nights
per week, Sunday through Thursday, February 2 through April
17 (excluding Spring Break). You work two of the five nights
avail able eat h week with some 'opportunity to work additional
Hours: 8:00 =11.:00 p.m. First Five Weeks
Hours: 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. Last Four Weeks
Pay: $4.00 per hour
The University of Michigan is on equal opportunity, Affirmative Action employer








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in the North Campus Commons
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The University of Michigan Housing Division
The Housing Division is looking for well-qualified candidates to serve as resident staff
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-Serving as positive academic and group living role models
-Fostering a spirit of community
-Developing and strengthening leadership, communication and group skills and
-Developing programs for a diverse student population,
Sunday, January 26, 1986 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 28, 1986 7:00 -9:00 p.m.
Representatives from the Housing Division will be there to provide information and
answer questions regarding candidate qualifications, selection processes and job
expectations. Applications are available only at these meetings.
An EqualOpportunity, Affirmative Action Employer

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