Last night I watched Purple Rain since it was the one year anniversary that we lost one of the greatest performers to ever exist. Before watching it yesterday I had seen Purple Rain only once, and that was on VH1. Since this is a highly sexualized R rated film that I happened to catch on television once, I feel like I’ve never really seen Purple Rain before last night. If you miss Apollonia’s nude scene, it’s like not truly experiencing this immortal classic at all.
One of the things I like most about Purple Rain besides the perfect soundtrack is the unpredictability of the film. The storyline is pretty out there in a very surreal and mind blowing fashion. One of the first things we’re treated to is a woman yelling at Morris Day and him having his lackey, Jerome easily picking this woman up and throwing her into the nearest dumpster. There is also an over the top soap opera level of drama to Purple Rain. One scene has Prince receiving a guitar from Apollonia, then five seconds later he backslaps her so hard she’s doing circles like The Tasmanian Devil. I should stress that none of this hurts the film. To me it makes it harder for one to peel their eyes away from the screen.
The acting in this film is surprisingly very well done. Films that are star vehicles for people who don’t normally act can be quite disastrous and yet Prince, a man who was known for his shyness seems incredibly comfortable in front of the camera. He performs and delivers his lines with an ease that is truly unseen from someone who isn’t a professional actor. The entire film is filled with people who don’t act for a living and surprisingly, for the most part they all seem to deliver their lines better than most action movie stars.
Overall, Purple Rain is a great music film that only seems to get better with age. It’s visually beautiful and yet was able to avoid the MTV music video plague of being painfully dull when Prince wasn’t performing for an awe inspiring three to five minute musical number. Unlike bad music films, when there isn’t a musical performance happening the film is still entertaining and has a hold on you. When not giving your ears the experience of a lifetime while wielding a guitar, Prince gives a kind of sensitive bad boy performance that’s similar to the great James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause.
As you can see I could go on endlessly praising Prince, but how could one not endlessly praise such a gifted performer who existed during the same time period as they did?