Critique of Oprah Winfrey's Film Version of Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Oprah Winfrey lied on the opposite end of Zora Neale Hurston’s spectrum when she produced her atrocious rendition of Hurston’s stellar novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. She modified characters and symbols, altered the theme and relationships, and utterly desolated the significance of the title, making it almost unrecognizable to someone who has read the book. Winfrey totally eviscerated Hurston’s unsurpassed novel, extrapolating what she thought important without going in depth in to the true meaning of the story. Oprah took Hurston’s writing and morphed it into her own abominable movie.
Oprah’s first mistake, changing Janie’s character to making her equal to men, strengthened Janie in order to show that she controlled her life. Zora Neale Hurtson wrote Janie as a woman subordinate to men, such as Logan Killicks or Joe Starks. “‘She’s uh woman and her place is in de home’” (Hurston 51). By making Janie lesser to men, Hurston portrays the way that men treated women in the 1920s and 1930s and how their husbands expected their wives to act. Janie, a wife, and strictly that, bound to the things that wives existed, at the time, to do had known that she had to follow these unspoken rules and act subordinate to men. Oprah’s change creates an essence of strength for her character in order to make Janie independent and that she does what she wants. In the movie, she played checkers with the people of Eatonville, mouthed off to Joe in front of the town, and even worked in the field with Logan Killicks. Joe Starks nor Logan Killicks would not allow Janie to do these things as the men believed that a wife should do her womanly duties of cooking and cleaning, not a man’s work. Oprah’s alteration created equality with Janie’s character, ther...

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Their Eyes Were Watching God. Dir. Darnell Martin. Perf. Halle Berry. Harpo, 2005. DVD.

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