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Purple Rain: 2-Disc Special Edition

Genre: , ,

Cast: Prince


Rated: G

Review By:
Rocco Passafuime

SUNY Purchase '05

"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore

Release Date: August 24th, 2004
Click to Buy on DVD or Bluray!
Overall Grade: A-

Purple Rain: 2-Disc Special Edition

Review By: Rocco Passafuime

Purple Rain: 2-Disc Special Edition

By 1984, the rise of MTV had begun to permeate itself into American film with the success of heavily music-oriented, music-video-like dramas such as Flashdance and Footloose. However, it was pop legend Prince who took the concept a step further with what is arguably the first full-length music video film with Purple Rain, now available in a two-disc 20th Anniversary Special Edition.

The film is a fictitious and loosely-based variation on Prince's rise to the top in the (figuratively and literally) harsh and cold region of Minneapolis. At the popular nightspot First Avenue, performers compete for the coveted attention of the establishment's fickle crowd and its even more fickle owner, Billy.

One act trying to win favor with the crowd is the electrifying band The Revolution, led by a cold, detached, yet highly-impassioned performer known only as The Kid (Prince). His rivals are the flamboyant, yet more viable showman Morris Day and his band The Time.

The Kid already has plenty to contend with, living in the basement of the home of an abusive father (Clarence Williams III) and his wayward mother (Olga Karlatos). However, he finds himself battling his own potentially destructive demons when he competes with Day, not only for the audience, but for the affections of a young upstart named Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero). Things begin to brew up when the Kid's rival soon seeks her as the leader of a raunchy all-girl trio known as the 6, as well as for his own prurient interests.

Purple Rain holds a place as one of the more unique films to emerge out of the 1980's. On the surface, the film feels like merely a vanity affair for Prince and his musical underlings, which produce rather mixed results out of its many first-time actors.

Most of the principal cast of performers manages to avoid any embarrassment by keeping their roles the equal of glorified cameos. Prince's acting skills here are not exceptional by any means, but his minimal dialogue allows the focus to be placed on his best asset, which is his quiet, yet charismatic and tortured on-screen presence.

Time singer Morris Day proves himself more naturally adept to film, as the comical gigolo persona of his band's albums comes alive hilariously on screen, while Apollonia clearly lacks both performing and acting ability. Karlatos and, particularly, Williams III give the movie its dramatic weight with their brief, but nevertheless edgy and intense performances.

While the plot is paper-thin, it bridges the gaps effectively for what is arguably the hallmark of this film, the incredible live performances of Prince and The Time, both captured at inarguably the peak of their musical powers. And while a few of the scenes, such as Day's right-hand tossing a woman into a dumpster and The Kid becoming rather abusive with Apollonia later on, come off vicious and disturbingly misogynistic, it's presented in a

fairly impartial and matter-of-fact manner as the story's clear focus is on The Kid's desire to overcome his own darkness and ultimately triumph.

The DVD is presented in the 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with the sound quality in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. The DVD is also packed with plenty of special features.

On the first disc, there is audio commentary with director Albert Magnoli, producer Robert Cavallo, and director of photography Donald E. Thorin. While the three of them are not particularly engaging, they do manage to provide plenty of interesting info on how the film was conceived and shaped.

The second disc provides a generous supply of bonus material. On the featurette First Avenue: The Road To Pop Royalty, former members of Prince's band The Revolution including Wendy And Lisa, Bobby Z, and Dr. Fink, music producers and former Time members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, as well as journalists and crew members discuss the surprisingly rich history of Minneapolis's First Avenue club.

The featurette Purple Rain: Backstage Pass is a lengthy, yet highly insightful look into the development and making of the movie, with interviews from director Albert Magnoli, producer Robert Cavallo, former members of The Revolution, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and others.

The featurette Riffs, Ribbons, and a Revolution: The Impact And Influence Of Purple Rain briefly shows the legacy of the film and its impact on 1980's pop culture, featuring interviews with former members of The Revolution and others. A particular treat for fans is the inclusion of music videos or otherwise performance clips of many of the singles and songs from the film.

Included is the iconic and stylish video for "When Doves Cry" in its entirety, all-montage clips of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" and The Time's "Jungle Love" and "The Bird", and electrifying live performance clips of songs like "I Would Die 4 U/Baby, I'm A Star" (this particularly noteworthy for how exhaustingly long it is) and "Take Me With U". And rounding things out is the title song, which is merely the scene from the film, and a very 1980's video for Apollonia 6's "Sex Shooter".

And rounding out the special features is a premiere party TV special produced by MTV. While it repetitiously shows Prince's music videos from the film, it is a great curiosity presented in its entirety, with rather nostalgic interviews from MTV VJ's with celebrities like Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman, Eddie Murphy, "Weird Al" Yankovic, as well as Prince underlings like Wendy And Lisa and Sheila E..

While Purple Rain suffers from occasionally amateurish acting, a broad plot, and occasionally campy melodrama, its incredible musical performances secure it as a stunning full-length music video film. It's managed to not only encapsulate the Minneapolis music scene of the 1980's which Prince almost single-handedly led to pop glory, but singer at the height of his artistic and commercial power. Also, the

special features on this 2-disc set are often generous, making it worthwhile for both casual and hardcore fans.

Movie Grade: B+
DVD Features Grade: A-
Overall Grade: A-

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