Monday, April 22, 2013


Director: Albert Magnoli
Warner Home Video

Genius is a word tossed about with reckless abandon. It does not apply to very many people. However, Prince is one of the few who have set foot on this planet that word should be attached to. . . at least in the realm of music. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brian Wilson, and Prince.

In 1982 Prince released his first album that truly cemented his pop sensibilities, funkiness,  electronic voyeurism,  and sexual energy. 1999 was released to rave reviews from music fans and critics alike.

Rather than just trying to top his previous album, Prince released a more refined version of 1999 and on top of that, released the semi-biographical film PURPLE RAIN.

The album and movie were both resounding successes. Prince was now being thrust into the same category of 80's superstardom as Michael Jackson and Madonna.


The music is phenomenal. The movie is sort of a mixed bag.

The film is melodramatic and soap opera like.

The acting is hit and miss. Other than Prince's Father (Clarence Williams III)  and Mother (Olga Karlatos), none of the other people in the film are actors. As an actor, Prince is pretty terrible. Morris Day is charming and went on to act in a few other movies. The "live" musical numbers are what make this movie worth watching. It's essentially a really long music video, which in 1984, was mind blowing and ground breaking.


The film was originally quite a bit longer. There is a shooting draft script out there. It truly fleshes out the story. Most of the original script was shot and left on the cutting room floor. Many snippets of footage can be seen in the "When Doves Cry" montage, which "When Doves Cry" was written for. Had the film not been trimmed, that song may not exist.

The full script makes the final cut of the movie look pretty crappy by comparison. Considering the final cut was almost two hours however, makes me slightly thankful a three hour long version doesn't exist.


Since this box art overview has essentially become a mini-review, I'm going to stop talking about the movie and discuss the video box.

It looks like the album art. Which is really smart. It keeps all of the media surrounding the release recognizable and unified. Just like the music releases, Prince is on his sweet ride with Apollonia starring on longingly. The dark image is bordered by a white backing scattered with flowers.

As a side note, as a child I though the flowers in the white border were fruits and vegetables. I was kind of stupid.


When I picked up the tape, I thought the tape label was the coolest part. Rather than boring text, Warner Brothers decided to add some color and the main album image to the label. Very cool.

Most of the titles we touch on here at All-Star Video are not mainstream titles, PURPLE RAIN is just about as mainstream as it gets. It's an entertaining movie that's music completely outshines the content of the picture. It isn't a musical, but it really isn't a straight up narrative film either. It's sort of a mutated version of both. The more you watch it, the more disjointed and awkward it gets. It's great.

- M. McSlam

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