Purple Rain (1984) – Albert Magnoli

Prince was an icon on the verge and his film Purple Rain catapulted him to legend. Using his own life as the basis for the film, the story features electrical musical performances, sometimes subpar to adequate acting, and an engaging tale that highlights everything that he was capable of.

Prince plays the Kid who tries to forget the abusive nature of his family’s home life by being the best musician he can be, rocking tunes in a club in Minneapolis, and hoping to find his way to stardom.

He’s not the only one, and the lines blur between reality and fiction as musicians and acts from real-life seem to be playing versions of themselves on screen. Prince’s band, The Revolution is there, Morris Day and the Time are there, and the lovely Apollonia is front and center. And they are playing reflections of themselves as told through this story.

It’s a coming-of-age story, as well as a story of appearances. Everyone is putting on a persona on stage, but each character’s reality, whether it be home life, apartment, or finances, is a little more gritty. Each of them is grasping for stardom to elevate themselves out of their circumstances.

But will any of them do it?

From its powerful opening featuring Let’s Go Crazy, through its emotional beats, it offers a fictionalized look at what Prince and others go through to make it. With fantastic style, and incredible music (which took home an Academy Award), this glimpse back at the 80s has aged very well. Perhaps because prince’s music has done the same.

Sensual, powerful, and enduring Purple Rain is by no definition a great movie. The acting is flawed, and the story while influenced by real life is recognizable from countless similarly themed films. But it all comes down to presence.

Prince captivates anytime he’s onscreen and one can only sit back and watch this fantastic musician in a film that highlights his music, style, and hints at who he may have been at the time. I can honestly watch that opening sequence over and over, Let’s Go Crazy remains one of my favorite songs by Prince, and the energy it brings to the film cannot be paralleled.

Released in 1984, the film not only endures almost forty years later, it still rocks!


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