Prince Rogers Nelson passed away on 4/21/16 at age 57, and I mourned along with the world. As therapy perhaps, I just had to watch Purple Rain again. Immediately after seeing it in the theater back in 1984, I bought the album, and later, after selling all my albums, I replaced it with a CD. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain, will always be in my collection of music.
The film is rated R for sexuality, some nudity, language, and some violent content. The film is said to be quasi-biographical about Prince, who plays a musician named simply “The Kid”.
I liked Purple Rain then and I liked watching it now. I enjoyed seeing Prince perform again. His raw energy astounds me; the passion with which he delivers his songs is just intense. The era that the film was made was one of changing identities for men and women in the music scene. It is visually stunning in terms of sets and makeup. The story moves along fairly well too. A nice mix of intense drama and sometimes ridiculous comedy, often supplied by Morris Day and the Time, a rival band to Prince’s crew.
One of the film’s subplots deals with domestic violence. The Kid’s parents have an abusive relationship, and his father is played by Clarence Williams III of Mod Squad fame, who’s had a long career in film. The Kid’s father has broken dreams, never got a break in life where his creativity would be recognized, and when The Kid realizes this, it changes him. He has an awakening and transforms. It’s a very satisfying story in that sense.
Some criticisms of the film from other reviewers included that Apollonia and the girl group Morris Day set her up in were horrible. I agree that the song they performed, Sex Shooter, was awful. In fact, that song was nominated for a Razzie award for worst original song that year. But I would argue that Prince wrote it to be awful. (You’ll notice Sex Shooter is not on the Purple Rain CD, for good reason.)
Apollonia was selling herself short joining that little trio, and that horrible song fit in perfectly with the plot. As did all of his other exceptional songs in the film. If you look at what a good musical should project in its musical numbers, every song should tell a story and move the action along.
Prince received an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, the last award given out in this category (no films have met the qualifications to even be nominated in the category since then).
Here is a link to the announcement of Prince’s win at the Academy Awards, and his brief acceptance speech with Wendy and Lisa accompanying him: Prince accepts Academy Award
Watch Purple Rain again if you haven’t seen it in years, and if you’ve never seen it, watch it for the classic film it now is, and to see Prince’s musical genius. You will always be missed, Prince.