Studio: Warner Bros.
US Rating: Rated R
Film Length: 114 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Plus, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English, French and Spanish Subtitles
The Film - out of
The Kid lives two lives. He is a performer of considerable talent at the First Avenue club where he entertains crowds of fans with his eclectic fusion of rock/pop but, at home, however, he is son to an abusive father and terrified mother. At all times, however, he is a distant, isolated and troubled soul who lives for music and uses it as expression, escape and a way to talk to the world.
He sets his eyes upon the beautiful Apollonia after she walks into the club one night looking for work and finds his every thought infected by her.
The Kid is rivaled by a fellow performer, Morris Day, an overly confident ladies man whose competitive spirit and aggressive womanizing leads him to leverage Apollonia and The Kid’s feelings towards her to his advantage.
Life, music and art collide in the drama of their lives and The Kid must find a way to balance his tumultuous home life, his interest in this new woman and his insular approach to ‘his’ music.
Prince plays The Kid for the first time in Purple Rain, a critically and commercially popular musical sensation from 1984. He would reprise his Kid character again in 1990’s Graffiti Bridge, but never with the same passion and energy.
Purple Rain, written by William Blinn and Albert Magnoli, with Magnoli also making his directorial debut, is a remarkably engrossing tale, unpolished and filled with every excess the 80’s had to offer, but the rich and lively musical soundtrack, provided by Prince and the Revolution, elevates the film to appealing heights.
Prince is quite the surprise in this film. His brooding character, balanced with his effervescent on-stage persona is capably portrayed, conveying a mysteriousness and isolated intrigue with finely honed sexiness and confidence. We are, for much of the film, not made explicitly aware of his goals or motivations but become invested in him anyway. His love interest in the film, Apollonia (her real name) is every bit as 80’s as her surroundings, with big hair rivaled only by Prince’s and a Broadway-style portrayal that was never at risk for getting any awards nomination, but are very much fitting for this film. Morris Day exudes all the traits of a self-absorbed play-boy caricature, overdone but enjoyable in the context of the film. His banter with his sidekick in the film Jerome (Jerome Benton) provide the films funniest moments. Clarence Williams III is also notable for his performance as The Kid’s father.
Prince’s persona of the ultra-cool, unsolved puzzle of a man literally gives the film its voice through impassioned stage performances of fantastic songs. Watching the Kid pour his everything into the invigorating stage productions provides a well crafted counterbalance to the person he is at home, dealing with the reality of his difficult, violent and lonely existence.
The thing I enjoyed the most about Purple Rain was using Prince’s wildly original and unique music as the emotion in the film, using it to speak volumes and blending it with the story superbly. Songs are well positioned throughout the film, popping up with rhythmic persistence, almost set to a metronome; cushioning scenes of heavy dialogue and drama.
Purple Rain really was a revolution for Prince in the mid-1980’s and a well earned one at that; featuring now-legendary songs, an energetic performance from the man himself and a story that allowed us to become invested in him and his musical vision. It has earned itself a place in the list of the most influential movies on pop-culture of all time.
Warner Bros has provided Purple Rain, framed in its original theatrical presentation ratio of 1.85:1 with VC-1 encoding, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. There is plenty of film grain and far too much noise during the darker scenes that it becomes distracting at times. But the image really stands out at times, too. The image quality during the song, ‘When Doves Cry’ – is the reference moment of the film in terms of just how good it can look.
The daytime scenes come across far more favorably than the darker nighttime and interior shots – however, many of the club scenes, bathed in the blues, purples and reds are vibrant, even if they don’t leap off the screen.
Purple Rain comes with both a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD audio option. The most noticeable aspect of the audio is how the sound level appears to be much lower than other movies. It is a reasonably good audio track, with good musical ambience and nice booms through the subwoofer at times. But there are occasions during the film when the sound is a little hollow or flat, which is a shame. Surrounds are used to good affect at times, allowing the music to permeate the speakers and envelope the viewer.
For a film whose voice is predominantly the musical numbers by Prince and The Revolution, I would have expected a little more power from the audio.
Commentary by Director Albert Magnoli, Producer Robert Cavallo and Cinematographer Donald E Thorin. – Fairly comprehensive commentary covering the creation of the movies neon palette, choreography of shots and working with Prince. It was also interesting to hear the conditions under which the filming took place, temperatures that dropped low enough to freeze the generators fuel.
Recalling how the film was lit, locations were transformed and the movie was edited together, including how certain controversial scenes (the lady in the dumpster) were fought for and, in some cases, compromised to satisfy Warner Brothers at the time. It was interesting to hear them discuss Prince and his approach, a disciplined and professional nature that allowed the filmmakers to capture sequences with Prince only needing to perform a couple of takes.
First Avenue: The Road to Pop Royalty – (12:23) – DJ’s, Journalists, members of The Revolution and others pay homage to the Minneapolis Club location, First Avenue. The club was used in the movie but had long been a popular live music events location.
Purple Rain Backstage Pass – (29:43) – This reflection on the experience of Purple Rain and the music of Prince coming to the big screen, works pretty good and is a step above the typical MTV documentary-style reminiscence. Plenty of great Prince songs from the film accompany the montage of film clips mixed with interviews with the director, members of The Revolution and others.
Riffs, Ruffles and a Revolution: The Impact and Influence of Purple Rain– (10:01) – This extra features interview clips that were clearly sliced off the other extra’s and turned into a segment that speaks to the impact that Prince’s Purple Rain film, album and tour had.
MTV Premiere Party – (27:51) – I love special features on older movies that are from the time when the movies were released. This is a great nugget from way back in 1984 and watching MTV in all its awkwardness back then is just a delight. It is completely vacuous entertainment from the days when the ‘M’ in MTV actually meant something. Silly but utterly enjoyable anyway.
Music Video’s for:
Lets Go Crazy – (4:05)
Take Me With U - (4:54)
When Doves Cry - (5:59)
I Would Die 4 U / Baby I’m A Star - (17:53)
Purple Rain – (7:06)
Jungle Love - (3:28)
The Bird - (3:50)
Sex Shooter - (4:41)
Prince Movie Trailer Gallery –
Purple Rain -1984 – (1:29)
Under The Cherry Moon – 1986 - (1:30)
Graffiti Bridge – 1990 – (1:46)
I was never the biggest fan of Prince’s music, but discovering Purple Rain at this point in my life has allowed me to enjoy every note written and energetically performed in the film by this songwriter/musician of boundless talent. While the film itself bears some scars of the first time director, producer and actors, it still holds up well as a story that you can really get behind and cheer about when the credits finally roll (after an ending that spends 10 minutes as a pure concert movie). Prince is a true performer and he seems to be tied to every element of the film. I guess that is why his name appears right above the films title on the poster.
A genuinely great experience, a real personification of the decade from which it was born and a foot stomping good time.