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|
|Written by||Zora Neale Hurston (novel)|
Suzan-Lori Parks (teleplay)
Misan Sagay (teleplay)
Bobby Smith, Jr. (teleplay)
|Directed by||Darnell Martin|
|Music by||Terence Blanchard|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||113 minutes|
- Halle Berry as Janie Crawford
- Michael Ealy as Tea Cake
- Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Joe Starks
- Nicki Micheaux as Phoebe Watson
- Lorraine Toussaint as Pearl Stone
- Ruby Dee as Nanny
- Terrence Howard as Amos Hicks
- Gabriel Casseus as Sam Watson
- Artel Kayàru as Motor Boat
- Jensen Atwood as Johnny Taylor
- Kevin Daniels as Liege Moss
- Wayne Duvall as Dr. Gordon
- Mel Winkler as Logan Killicks
- Maura Gale as Lula Moss
- Henry Brown as Water Stone
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." 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."
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.
Awards and nominationsEdit
- Valby, Karen. "Review of film Their Eyes Were Watching God." Entertainment Weekly. November 25, 2005. (accessed March 28, 2012).
- Heffernan, Virginia. "A Woman on a Quest, via Hurston and Oprah"], The New York Times. March 4, 2005. [https://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/04/arts/television/04heff.html?_r=1 (accessed April 5, 2012)
- 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:
- Cotton, Trystan T. and Kimberly Springer. Stories of Oprah. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi Jackson, 2010. Print.
- Felder, Deborah G. A Bookshelf of Our Own. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2005. Print.
- Heffernan, Virginia. "NY Times Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God | Interversity.Org". Interversity.Org | A Bureaucracy-Free Zone. 4 March 2005. Web. 13 February 2011. <https://web.archive.org/web/20110726082715/http://www.interversity.org/commentary/tewwg_review>.
- Iverem, Esther. "Reviews of 'Their Eyes Were Watching God', 'Born into Brothels' and Spike Lee's 'Sucker-Free City' Plus, in Brief, 'Hitch' and 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman'". Seeing Black. 4 March 2005. Web. 13 February 2011. <https://web.archive.org/web/20110716033146/http://www.seeingblack.com/2005/x030405/eyes_movies.shtml>.