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“Any woman director would have done that brilliantly”: Steven Spielberg Was Afraid to Shoot “Extreme Erotic” Scene in ‘The Color Purple’

"Any woman director would have done that brilliantly": Steven Spielberg Was Afraid to Shoot "Extreme Erotic" Scene in 'The Color Purple'

Steven Spielberg is a renowned American filmmaker and producer, known for his exceptional work in the movie industry. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time, with a career spanning over five decades. Spielberg has directed and produced some of the most successful and critically acclaimed films in history, including JawsE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialJurassic Parkand Schindler’s List, among many others.

Spielberg’s list of most successful movies has the name The Color Purple. Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s acclaimed novel received widespread praise and was nominated for numerous awards, but it also faced criticism because of its direction. Many felt that the Jaw star had softened certain scenes of the novel, which as a result affected its impact on the viewers. 

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Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg On Shooting Erotic Scenes In The Color Purple

The Color Purple is a 1985 drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. The film tells the story of Celie, an African-American woman living in rural Georgia in the early 1900s, who endures abuse, poverty, and racism throughout her life. The movie explores themes of sisterhood, resilience, and empowerment, as Celie finds solace in her relationship with Shug Avery.

The three-time Academy Award winner revealed that he had softened certain scenes in the films, and emphasized the particular scenes of Celie and Shug. In the book, Celie and Shug have a deep sexual relationship, which was toned down in the film adaptation. The Raiders of the Lost Ark director admitted that he diluted some of the sexually explicit scenes in his film, stating that he had no idea how to direct those scenes. In particular, there was one scene that Spielberg was scared to shoot, where Shug exposes herself to Celie. Steven Spielberg acknowledged that a woman director would have done that scene justice.

“I bruise easily. And why put yourself through the pain needlessly? It’s just not productive. There were certain scenes I couldn’t bring myself to shoot. Some of the grittier ones because I didn’t grow up that way. Or, if I had been a woman, maybe I could have. But being a man, I didn’t know how. Any woman director would have done that brilliantly. And I was afraid of it. I didn’t know how to direct actors to do that. Now, because of Schindler’s List, all that’s changed. I did things in Schindler that I didn’t think I could bring myself around to do.”

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Alice Walker
Alice Walker

Alice Walker On Steven Spielberg’s Direction Of The Color Purple

Alice Walker felt that Spielberg could have done more to explore the relationship between Celie and Shug. Walker, who wrote the original book, admitted that if she had directed the film, their love life would have been much more expressive. Despite this, she also stated that Spielberg did a beautiful job of depicting the depths of their relationship and bringing in sweetness.

“Well, no, because his angle was very different. And I’m really at peace with that. It’s just that if I had directed it, of course, their love life would have been much more vibrant. But, 15 years later or however many years it’s been now when I look at it, I think he did a beautiful, very sensitive job of depicting the depths of their relationship. Because what he manages to do is, he brings in the sweetness. And that is so fine.”

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The Color Purple (1985 film)
The Color Purple (1985 film)

The Color Purple is a film that will always be remembered for its powerful message and outstanding performances. While there was criticism of the portrayal of Celie and Shug’s relationship, Steven Spielberg did his best to stay true to the book. He acknowledged his limitations as a man and a director and made the best film he could. The Color Purple is available on platforms like Prime Video. 

Source: Los Angeles Times;  Black Film

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Written by Vivek Kumar

Vivek Kumar is a young, enthusiastic writer with a natural talent for expressing his thoughts through writing. Currently pursuing a major in Psychology, he is dedicated to sharing his critical writing with the world. Along with his passion for writing, Vivek is also an avid anime fan. He works as a content writer at FandomWire, having written more than 200 articles and continues to do so. His love for writing and deep understanding of his craft enables him to produce quality content consistently.