Their Eyes Were Watching God (film)

Their Eyes Were Watching God is an American Broadcasting Company television film that aired on March 6, 2005. It is based upon Zora Neale Hurston's 1937 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Darnell Martin and produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions (Winfrey served as the host for the broadcast). Its teleplay was by Suzan-Lori Parks, Misan Sagay, and Bobby Smith, Jr. It starred Halle Berry and Michael Ealy, with other prominent actors.

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Their Eyes Were Watching God (DVD cover).jpg
Written byZora Neale Hurston (novel)
Suzan-Lori Parks (teleplay)
Misan Sagay (teleplay)
Bobby Smith, Jr. (teleplay)
Directed byDarnell Martin
StarringHalle Berry
Michael Ealy
Music byTerence Blanchard
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducersDavid Salzman
Matthew Carlisle
Quincy Jones
Oprah Winfrey
Running time113 minutes
Harpo Films
Touchstone Television
Original release
  • March 16, 2005 (2005-03-16)



Catering to Winfrey's expected TV audience, the film largely avoided the more controversial themes of race, gender, and power that Hurston explored in her novel. Karen Valby of Entertainment Weekly comments, "While the book chews on meaty questions of race and identity, the movie largely resigns itself to the realm of sudsy romance."[1] New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan said, "the film is less a literary tribute than a visual fix of Harlequin Romance: Black Southern Series— all sensual soft-core scenes and contemporary, accessible language."[2]

Sharon L. Jones, an English professor at Wright State University, agreed that the film was quite different from the novel. She said that the novel emphasizes Janie's life journey with others who are part of her establishing an identity, and she is sometimes overpowered by them. Jones says the film leaves out many important concepts that help convey the central theme. She says that Harpo's production was thought to address a more general idea of love to reach a broad range of audience, believed to be the majority-white females of Winfrey's TV audience.[3]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Awarding Body Award Nominee Result
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Commercial Television Peter C. Frank Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association Breakthrough Artist Award Terrence Howard Won
Black Movie Awards Outstanding Television Movie Matthew Carlisle, Kate Forte, Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Television Miniseries or Movie Their Eyes Were Watching God Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Michael Ealy Won
Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Halle Berry Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Ruben Santiago-Hudson Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Nicki Micheaux Nominated
Outstanding Director in a Miniseries or Movie Darnell Martin Nominated
Outstanding Screenplay in a Miniseries or Movie Suzan-Lori Parks, Misan Sagay and Bobby Smith, Jr. Nominated
Costume Designers Guild Outstanding Costume Design for Miniseries or Television Film Eduardo Castro Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television Darnell Martin Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Halle Berry Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Television Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special Their Eyes Were Watching God Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special Michael Ealy Nominated
Ruben Santiago-Hudson Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special Halle Berry Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Alan D'Angerio and Barbara Lorenz Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made For Television Ruben Santiago-Hudson Nominated


  1. ^ Valby, Karen. "Review of film Their Eyes Were Watching God." Entertainment Weekly. November 25, 2005. (accessed March 28, 2012).
  2. ^ Heffernan, Virginia. "A Woman on a Quest, via Hurston and Oprah"], The New York Times. March 4, 2005. [ (accessed April 5, 2012)
  3. ^ Jones, Sharon Lynette (2009). Critical Companion to Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. pp. 218–. ISBN 0816068852. Retrieved Nov 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)


External linksEdit