The Color Purple is lit canon for high school students, and the name, Alice Walker, causes many a recognized head nod. But Pratibha Parmar’s documentary, Beauty in Truth, brings the elusive writer into focus like never before.
Bordering on intimate, Parmar takes the audience on a journey through Walker’s life. In addition to what feels like an on-going conversation with the writer (at her home in rural Northern California), Parmar also sought out interviews with leading icons including Angela Davis, Quincy Jones, Howard Zinn, Jewel Gomez, Sapphire, Gloria Steinam, and Stephen Spielberg.
But Parmar didn’t just rely on interview to tell her story. The film is visually stunning with scenes of nature sometimes overlaid with hand-written journal entries. Other moments are filled with old photos and several violent film clips from the Civil Rights Movement. The film moves easily, like Walker’s beloved nature, telling the story of how Walker came to be the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, her biracial marriage in the sixties, her radical politics, and yes, her love affair with Tracy Chapman.
The glimpse inside Walker’s life is powerful, yet entertaining. As an audience member, I found it hard to leave without a new-found respect for her (and out-right loving her).
“I’m not a lesbian, or a bisexual, or straight,” Walker said in the film. “I’m curious. If you’re truly living life, how could you not be?”
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