Blitz Bazawule has revealed he asked The Color Purple director Steven Spielberg “what would you have done differently?” before setting out to remake the classic film.
A new musical version of The Color Purple, which is directed by Bazawule, hits UK cinemas on 27 January.
Spielberg’s version was famously criticised for underplaying the lesbian themes of the 1984 novel and source text by Alice Walker.
Spielberg said in a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly that he was “shy” about depicting the “sexually honest encounters” between main characters Shug and Celie in the book. He also said that he “softened” them for a PG-13 rating.
“Steven made that movie it in the early 80s when honest queer representation wasn’t what it is today” – The Color Purple‘s Blitz Bazawule
Asked in an exclusive interview with Attitude last November if he and Spielberg discussed matters of LGBTQ representation before he remade the film, Bazawule replied: “We never talked much about that. I knew what I was going to do. Steven made that movie in the early 80s when honest queer representation wasn’t what it is today. I was free.”
He added of Spielberg, a producer on the new version: “The one thing I did ask him was: ‘What would you do differently?’
“He was very upfront. ‘I would never make this movie again. I would just hire somebody I trust who’s proximate to the culture.’ I respected that.”
Discussing the sometimes-metaphorical depiction of queer themes in his version, Bazawule said: “Having access to Celie’s headspace allowed me to build an honest cadence in. How is she going through her sexual revolution? How to live, how to love? These are things that, on the exterior, you can’t quite show, right? But in the interior, I could play it out into this beautiful ballet.”
“Remember of course, that each character exists within a period,” Blitz added of the 1909-1947 timeframe of both films.
The Color Purple is released in UK cinemas on 26 January 2024.