Picks and Pans Review: The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult
by Alice Walker
In the decade since the movie adaptation of Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple, countless fans have asked her, “What did you think of the film?” Now Walker has collected diary entries, correspondence, her original screenplay (which director Steven Spielberg chose not to use) and other paraphernalia pertaining to the movie and presented it as her response.
As a detailed examination of how literature gets translated to the screen, The Same River Twice falls way short. As a series of flaky Walkerite observations, though, it’s fine. The author has hardly a harsh word for anyone involved in the movie, even though she says it gave her a headache when she first saw it. (She brought a good luck charm with her to the New York City premiere and found on second viewing that she loved the movie.)
Walker admits that she didn’t make millions on this megamovie. The book includes her 1987 letter to Steve Ross, then head of Warner Communications (who died in 1992, after Warner merged with Time Inc.), complaining that she had never received her three percent of The Color Purple’s gross. Even Walker, who says she was eventually paid “a portion of her monies” and who sees goodness everywhere, has a hard time honoring the difficulty of untangling Hollywood accounting. (Scribner, $24)