Purple Rain Reviews
Prince's live performances are legendary, "Computer Blue" is sick
To make it short, I didn't know what to expect from "Purple Rain," (the movie), but since I did like some of Prince's music, I went ahead and watched it. I was expecting it to be full of concert clips and mainly to just be about Prince's music, but I was wrong. "Purple Rain" is about Prince's ups and downs, both with his music and his personal life. When you watch it, you'll see Prince struggle with his family, his girlfriend, and believe it or not, even with getting his music career started. If you're familiar with 80's music, then you'll also recognize Morris Day, who performs some of his hits such as "Jungle Love" and he poses as Prince's main adversary.
Of course, the biggest standout with "Purple Rain" is the great music. You'll hear such familiar 80's pop sensations as "Purple Rain," "I Would Die 4 You," "When Doves Cry," "Let's Go Crazy," and others. However, "Purple Rain" is also entertaining with its other stories that have nothing to do with music or concerts. If you haven't ever saw "Purple Rain," I recommend giving it a try and possibly buying it. You just might go crazy for it. NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2001.
And what an incredible vehicle the film is for Prince. The film showcases everything that Prince is good at, from catchy pop songs to blistering guitar work, from massive sex appeal to charming idiosyncrasies, and all of it is on display here. One of the biggest pop acts from the eighties (anyone remember Prince v MJ debates) Prince is one of those rare pop stars with actual real musical talent. The film shows him doing it all, from his soulful rendering in the title song to the underrated guitar solo in Computer Blue. At the same time he is blessed with charisma and sex appeal, and that rare quality in which woman want to be with him and men want to be around him (or both and vice versa). As he coaxes Appolonia to baptize herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka all of these qualities are on display. Still, the best that Prince has to offer comes out in one of the best soundtracks to a film ever made.
Films of the eighties saw a rise in the use of soundtracks to not only promote the film but also as another revenue stream for the film. Films such as Footloose (Herbert Ross, 1984) and Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986) extensively used soundtracks to promote and the songs from the soundtrack were in turn used to propel narrative and fill screen time. No film soundtrack from the eighties worked for it's film quite like Purple Rain did. The soundtrack generated three top ten hits and each is as memorable as the next. The film starts with the frenzy of Let's Go Crazy, propels through a montage with When Doves Cry and allows The Kid (Prince) to finally realize his potential with the beautiful and haunting title song Purple Rain. Granted these songs all exist within the narrative but that doesn't preclude them from being absolutely great.
Also great within the film (and this is entirely subjective to me and probably me alone) is the outlandish production design of this film and its setting in the eighties. The costumes, hair and makeup and dancing is either ridiculous or extremely cool, depending on your point of view. The colors are bright, the fabrics are silky and shiny, the hair god-awful. I won't mention the dancing as a better example of that would be Footloose. What really speaks to me in the production design, twenty five years later, is the uniqueness and individuality placed within the PD. I have long believed that as a child of the eighties we had none of this, that we were all clones of one another. Never is this more evident than when one is watching The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985). Those five main characters are eighties children. I have always felt there was no deviation for kids of this time. We all fell into one of those five groups on display in The Breakfast Club and that was it. Watching Purple Rain I must now re-evaluate this belief, and if a film can do that after twenty five years and over at least twice as many viewings, that speaks volumes about how good that film is. One of my all time favorites, it always will be!
The Revolution is the hottest band on the block, until their star messes up the gig and reputation when he hooks up and breaks up with a local girl who is looking for work as a singer. During the first and second acts, Prince keeps rejecting a song idea proposed to him by his band mates, until his father dies one night, and in a moment of deep emotion, he writes a new song using the rejected lick and some of his father's piano compositions, and the song of course is Purple Rain. The build up to the climatic performance of this song is clever, but when we see it happen, it is a bit of a letdown. The whole scene is shot from one camera angle, and has no creativity to it. It is a touching moment though.
Ignoring all the controversy about Prince's wealth and ego problem (in reality), at his peak, he was one of the best. Having seen this movie however, I cannot help but think slightly less of him. The songs are good, but they don't save the movie.