In The Color Purple, Shug is Celie’s best friend, confidant and lover. However, that last aspect of their relationship is only briefly shown in the 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel. However, in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple on the 2023 movie schedule, the romantic relationship between these two women is clearly shown, and I loved it. And guess what? So did the author of the book, and she explained why.
What Happens Between Shug And Celie In 2023’s The Color Purple
The reason why I loved Celie and Shug’s relationship so much is because it serves as a primary point of joy and safety for Fantasia Barrino’s character. She adores Taraji P. Henson’s Shug Avery, and the singer helps her find the confidence that eventually leads to her leaving her abusive relationship with Mister.
In the film, the two go out for a romantic evening on the town, share a fantastical romantic song, and then kiss before spending the night together.
Other than Nettie and Sofia, Shug is the only person Celie really feels loved by. It’s a gorgeous relationship, and it helps Barrino’s character feel the care she’s so deserving of. Her and Shug’s romance is so sweet and vital to Celie’s healing, and both Alice Walker and I are thrilled that it was depicted in detail in Blitz Bazawule’s film.
Why Alice Walker, The Author Of The Color Purple Loved Celie and Shug’s Relationship In The Musical Movie
Now, in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of The Color Purple, Shug and Celie’s relationship doesn’t go past a few chaste kisses. So, when the 2023 film made their romance much clearer, Alice Walker absolutely loved it, as she said to THR:
The article notes that in the book, Shug and Celie’s romantic relationship is integral. However, in the 1985 film, it’s merely hinted at, as the characters share one scene where they kiss. As we talked about, in the new movie, it’s clear that they love each other deeply, and along with sharing a kiss, they also spend the night together. And while no other big romantic moments are shown after that night, the love between them is present throughout the rest of the film.
In 1985 queer relationships were not as widely accepted as they are now. So, Walker said Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones, who produced both iterations of The Color Purple, did their best for the times. She said:
Shug and Celie’s relationship is a big deal in the 2023 movie, and the romantic feelings they have are not simply hinted at, they are shown. Danielle Brooks, who stars alongside Henson and Barrino as Sofia in The Color Purple cast, commented on why this kind of representation is important, saying:
It truly is a “beautiful thing,” and I’m so thrilled we got to see this kind of representation in such a massive movie. Shug and Celie’s love for one another is a major point of joy in The Color Purple, and seeing them express that care and act on their chemistry in such a clear way is moving on a lot of levels.
To see why Alice Walker loved Shug and Celie’s gorgeous relationship in the critically adored musical adaptation of The Color Purple, you can catch the film, which is one of my favorite movies of 2023, in theaters now.