This past weekend, I went to see the movie, “For Colored Girls,” based on the 1975 play for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf written by poet Ntozake Shange. The play is 20-part poem that chronicles the lives of Black women; it was published in book form in 1977.
Here are a few opinions without plot spoilers: On an emotional level, I enjoyed the movie. The audience I saw it with was full of colored girls like me, crying in spots and generally empathizing with what was happening on the screen.
The poetry is divine and was woven seamlessly into the dialogue. However, this may have been a drawback because the poems didn’t stand out quite enough. In some cases, the visuals took away from the aural experience. In yet another instance, two people were reciting different poems at the same time. Conceptually, it was rather interesting but as I was catching phrases from either poem, I was frustrated that I couldn’t concentrate on them individually.
A friend of mine, another colored girl, saw the movie separately and hated it, thinking it was way over the top. I do understand her point: On a scale of one to 10, the drama intensity started at a nine and ended up at around 11 or 12.
The question of Tyler Perry’s skill or lack thereof as a director has been much debated, and reviews of the new movie are mixed at best, as evidenced by these articles at the Salon and USA Today web sites. I think Perry, who also wrote the script for the movie, did a good job modernizing the stories. I wonder, though, what Lee Daniels, male director of “Precious”–or even any woman director–would have done with the material.
Is there such a thing as a black women theatrical film director? Hopefully they’re up and coming.
As for Ntozake Shange herself, she is fine with the way the film turned out, according to an article on theGrio web site. Among other things, she’s happy that her work is getting exposure.
Am I imagining that there is a general renewed interest in poetry? The movie, “Howl,”–which highlights the famous poem, its creator Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, and the pivotal obscenity trial–opened only a few months before “For Colored Girls.” The latter, so far, is doing decent box office; Howl, an artsy genre-bender of a film, has not fared as well. Nevertheless, I hope that the appreciation for poetry continues to become more widespread.
By the way, you don’t have to be the “c” word to to see “For Colored Girls.”
Courtesy of Poets.org, here’s the conclusion of a poem I love by Ntozake Shange (this is not from for colored girls…). Her social commentary is deadly serious and sometimes wickedly funny.
this is blk magic
you lookin at
& i’m fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/
Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for
Technologically Stressed Third World People
–Excerpt From “My Father Is a Retired Magician”
by Ntozake Shange.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2010