Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Visions of the Spirit: A Portrait of Alice Walker

Rating: ****

  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $295.00
  • Date: Copyright 1989. Released 1989.
  • Descriptors: Walker, Alice. Authors - American. Blacks - Authors.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Elana Featherston. Color. 58 min.
  • Production Company: Reel Directions Raiden Productions
  • Available from: Women Make Movies 462 Broadway, 5th Floor New York, NY 10013
  • Cataloging: B Walker, Alice, 1944-||Afro-American women authors
  • Awards: American Film & Video Festival Red Ribbon, 1989.
  • Print Entry #: 1:884
  • Reviewer: Valencia Mitchell

    This award-winning video presents a portrait of author Alice Walker. Shot over a three-year period in her California home and her hometown of Eatonton, Georgia, this Pulitzer Prize winning author is shown as writer, philosopher, activist, daughter, and mother. The viewer is given a glimpse of Walker's life as a child, young adult, and mature adult and the influences on her at each stage. This is done through interviews with her sister, 1st-grade teacher, mother, daughter, and male companion.

    Although Alice Walker is the author of three novels, four books of poetry, and a number of short stories, she is best known for The Color Purple, made into film. The first portion of this video discusses the book, the film, and the controversy surrounding Walker's treatment of the black male in her fiction. In an attempt to get past what appears to be a "sore" spot in Walker's writing career and to present some evidence in her defense in this controversy, the producers interview some of the principals associated with making the film, as well as literary critic and writer Barbara Christian.

    The remainder of the video gives true insight into Alice Walker the person, against the backdrop of her rural Southern upbringing. Her hometown in Georgia is also the home of writers Flannery O'Connor and Joel Chandler Harris. Eatonton most acknowledges Joel Chandler Harris, who is best known for the Uncle Remus stories. These stories presented the most stereotypical views of African-Americans, embodied in such characters as Br'er Rabbit and Tar Baby. This background, along with Walker's strong ties to the women in her family, consciousness of women's conditions around the world, involvement in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, and her years spent living in Africa, have contributed to the person of Alice Walker. This is reflected when she speaks of her philosophy of life and writing.

    Visions of the Spirit has beautiful footage of rural Georgia and the California countryside. It makes excellent general viewing, in addition to its potential use with high school and college courses in American literature and women as writers.

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