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Purple Rain (1984)

Do you see something you like? The Kid (Prince) is the talented troubled frontman of Minneapolis band The Revolution. To escape his difficult home life – his father (Clarence Williams III) verbally and physically abuses him and his mother (Olga Karlatos). He spends his days rehearsing and his nights performing at the First Avenue club. The Revolution, the flashy Morris Day and his band The Time and Dez Dickerson and his group The Modernaires hold the nightclub’s three house band slots. Morris, aware that The Revolution’s guitarist Wendy (Wendy Melvoin) and keyboardist Lisa (Lisa Coleman) are frustrated that The Kid is unwilling to play their compositions, lobbies Billy Sparks the club’s owner, to replace The Revolution with a girl group which Morris is already forming. Morris targets the Kid’s girlfriend Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero) an aspiring singer to lead his group and tries to persuade her that The Kid won’t help her because he’s too focused on himself. She joins and Morris names the group Apollonia 6. When she reveals her new partnership to the Kid, he becomes furious and slaps her, just as his father had hit him earlier. At First Avenue The Kid responds to the band strife, the pressure to draw more crowds, and his strained private life with the uncomfortable Darling Nikki a highly sexualised performance which publicly humiliates Apollonia, who runs away in tears, and angers both Morris and Billy, worsening his situation. Billy confronts the Kid, castigating him for bringing his personal life onto the stage and warning him that he’s wasting his musical talent as his father did. Apollonia 6 makes a successful stage debut and Billy warns the Kid that his First Avenue slot is now at risk. The Kid seizes Apollonia from a drunken Morris and the two argue and fight; then Apollonia abandons him. Returning home, he finds the house in tatters, with his mother nowhere to be found. When he turns on the basement light, his father – who had been lurking in the basement with a loaded handgun – shoots himself in the head. Frenzied after a night of torment, the Kid tears apart the basement to release his frustration, only to find a large box of his father’s musical compositions. The next morning, he picks up a tape of one of Wendy and Lisa’s compositions, Slow Groove and begins to compose. That night at First Avenue, all is quiet in The Revolution’s dressing room until The Time stops by and Morris taunts the Kid about his family life. Once he’s on stage, the Kid announces that he will be playing a song the girls in the band wrote and he dedicates it to his father. It’s Purple RainI could make you happy if you just believed in me. I’d die for you. With its spare by-the-numbers screenplay by director Albert Magnoli and William Blinn from a story by Prince this rock musical has comic and melodramatic elements and acting that could come out of silent cinema. There are some highly raunchy scenes and some that could constitute extreme sexism. Mostly it’s about one of the most astonishing song cycles ever produced by one of the geniuses of the twentieth century and certainly its greatest virtuoso guitarist. It also has the contours of Prince’s life with all of the characters playing themselves in the city of Minneapolis and the music played by ‘Father’ a piece by John L. Nelson, Prince’s own father. Way back then when Mondo first heard When Doves Cry on the airwaves it was like music from another planet. This musical rocked the house and still does. In a word, jaw-dropping. Your music makes sense to no-one but yourself

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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