Purple Rain (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Albert Magnoli|
|Produced by||Robert Cavallo
|Written by||Albert Magnoli
John L. Nelson
|Cinematography||Donald E. Thorin|
|Edited by||Albert Magnoli
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$68.4 million|
Purple Rain is a 1984 American rock musical drama film directed by Albert Magnoli and written by Magnoli and William Blinn. In it, Prince makes his film debut, which was developed to showcase his particular talents. Hence, the film contains several extended concert sequences. The film grossed more than US$80 million at the box office and became a cult classic. Purple Rain is the only feature film starring Prince that he did not direct. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, currently the last film to receive the award. It was nominated for two Razzie Awards, including Worst New Star for Apollonia Kotero and Worst Original Song for "Sex Shooter".
"The Kid" is the talented but troubled frontman of his Minneapolis-based band, The Revolution. To escape his difficult home life - his father is verbally and physically abusive, and his mother is emotionally abusive - he spends his days rehearsing and his nights performing at the First Avenue nightclub. Competing with the Revolution for First Avenue's three house band slots is the flashy Morris Day and his group The Time.
The film opens with the famous “Let’s Go Crazy” sequence, comprising little edits of punky/new romantic-looking people in the crowd and Prince adjusting his eyelashes and hands on the mixing board. During this sequence we see Morris Day of The Time at home with an Aunt Jemima kerchief tied around his head, and Apollonia pull up in a cab outside. She ditches her fare, gets a hotel room across the street, and heads over to the club, where she sneaks in past the Bear Icon bouncer and gives her name to a waitress, hoping to perform at the club. She lists her age as 19, although she obviously looks older. Appollonia is transfixed by Prince’s guitar solo (she moved to the city, checked to the hotel room and passed her contact info to club management in the final two minutes of the song), then is transfixed anew by Morris Day as he and The Time perform Jungle Love. She turns around to find Prince staring at her intensely, then he dons a pair of round mirrored 'John Lennon' glasses and stands right behind her. By the time she can muster an “I really liked your song, too,” he’s gone.
Prince rides home on his purple motorcycle. He goes in to find his father beating up his mother, and he tries to break them up and gets hit himself. Then he’s back in the club and a waitress is giving him a song by Wendy and Lisa, members of his band, but he doesn’t want to listen to it because he’s a megalomaniac. Morris knows that the Kid's guitarist, Wendy, and keyboardist, Lisa, are growing disgruntled with the Kid's leadership of the band, especially his refusal to play any of the music they have composed. Playing on the rift, Morris lobbies Billy, the nightclub's owner, to back a more commercial girl group (which Morris is already forming) to replace the Revolution. Morris and his lackey/servant Jerome are watching two girls (the other two members of Vanity 6), and Morris instructs them: “Let’s see some asses wiggling.” They oblige, and Morris and Jerome then step outside, where Morris is confronted by a woman who complains that he stood her up. Jerome stands next to her shaking his head, and claiming that "She just doesn’t get it” he picks the woman up and throws her into a dumpster.
Appollonia stops by the club and encounters Prince, who asks her to give him a bracelet off her boot. He then takes it and walks off, refusing to give it back. She hops on the back of his bike and they go for a pastoral country ride. They stop by this lake and Prince tells her that she must “purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.” Appollonia, after giving him a sly glance, proceeds to undress, removing her leather corset to reveal her large bosom, as Prince looks on in satisfaction. She jumps into cold waters of the lake, but Prince then informs her that the body of water she just jumped into is not Lake Minnetonka. He then takes off on his motorcycle and makes her think he has left her to walk home, but circles back after a few minutes to give her a ride. When she lifts her leg to get on the bike, he guns the engine and pulls ahead. Then he does it again, and again, before finally letting her on. When she finally does get on the bike he cheekily looks back and says “Don’t get my seat all wet.”
Meanwhile, Morris targets the Apollonia for the girl group, and tries to persuade her that the Kid will never help her establish herself because he can't even establish himself. Apollonia eventually relents and joins Morris' group, which Morris names Apollonia 6; when she reveals this to the Kid, he becomes furious and slaps her.
At the club, the Kid responds to the internal band strife and pressure to draw more crowds with an uncomfortably edgy performance of "Darling Nikki". The implications of the performance publicly humiliate Apollonia, who runs off in tears, and anger both Morris and Billy, which only makes the Kid's problems worse. Billy confronts the Kid, pointing out his father's wasted musical talent and stating that he's following the same path. The premiere of Apollonia 6 is a success, and Billy warns the Kid that his slot is threatened. The Kid seizes Apollonia from a drunken Morris and, after driving her to a railroad yard, begins to manhandle her. The Kid stops just short of striking her, and she abandons him. He returns home, to find the house a mess and his mother gone. 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. In a frenzy after a night of torment, the Kid tears apart the basement, only to find a large box of his father's musical compositions.
The next morning, the Kid picks up a cassette tape of one of Wendy and Lisa's compositions - a rhythm track named "Slow Groove" - and begins to compose. At night at First Avenue, all is quiet in the Revolution's dressing room, where everyone is nervous about the upcoming performance and whether it'll save their careers or not. The Revolution are tired Prince's leadership of the band. The Time finish their successful performance, and Morris stops by to taunt the Kid about his family life and how his father attempted suicide, though he is later shown to be remorseful about this. Prince ignores him and once on stage, announces that he will be playing "a song the girls in the band wrote", dedicated to his father - revealed to be "Purple Rain". The song portrays how he abused those closest to him and how he wants to atone and become a better person, to get to the "purple rain". The first verse is about his parents, the second about his ex-girlfriend, and the third about his band-members. The emotional and distraught performance is followed by a blistering long guitar solo and an affectionate kiss on Wendy's cheek, and by its end, Billy nods his head slowly as he knows Prince will keep his place at First Avenue.
As the song ends, Prince rushes from the stage and out the club's back door, intending to ride away on his motorcycle because he is convinced his latest song would be hated. However, he stops short - the crowd is thrilled by his new song and he gets a colossal ovation. He returns to the club to be greeted by the approval of his fellow musicians and audience, and embraces the teary-eyed and forgiving Apollonia. He returns to the stage for two encores with the Revolution, performing upbeat powerful versions of "I Would Die 4 U" and "Baby I'm a Star" to the wild approval of the crowd (even Morris and Jerome, who are implied to be supporting Prince by the end). Overlaid scenes show Prince visiting his father in the hospital and kissing his sleeping parents, as well as cleaning up his basement with Apollonia, who is back with him. The movie ends with Prince posing with a guitar on stage and the screen freezing. A reprise of all the songs plays as the credits roll.
- Prince as The Kid
- Apollonia Kotero as Apollonia
- Morris Day as Morris
- Clarence Williams III as Father, a.k.a. "Francis L."
- Olga Karlatos as Mother
- Jerome Benton as Jerome
- Jill Jones as Jill
- Dez Dickerson as Dez
- The Revolution as themselves
- The Time as themselves
- Lisa Coleman as Lisa
- Wendy Melvoin as Wendy
The film is tied into the album of the same name, which spawned two chart-topping singles: "When Doves Cry" and the opening number "Let's Go Crazy", and "Purple Rain" which reached #2. The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The soundtrack sold over 10 million copies in America alone, and 20 million worldwide.
- "Let's Go Crazy" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Jungle Love" - The Time
- "Take Me with U" - Prince and the Revolution featuring Apollonia
- "Modernaire" - Dez Dickerson and the Modernaires
- "The Beautiful Ones" - Prince and the Revolution
- "When Doves Cry" - Prince
- "Computer Blue" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Darling Nikki" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Sex Shooter" - Apollonia 6
- "The Bird" - The Time
- "Purple Rain" - Prince and the Revolution
- "I Would Die 4 U" - Prince and the Revolution
- "Baby I'm a Star" - Prince and the Revolution
Prince developed the concept during his Triple Threat Tour. Initially, the script was to be darker and more coherent. Prince intended to cast Vanity, leader of the girl group Vanity 6, but she left the group before filming began. Her role was initially offered to Jennifer Beals (who turned it down because she wanted to concentrate on college) before going to Apollonia Kotero, a virtual unknown at the time. Prince had seen her appearance on the February, 1983 episode of Tales of the Gold Monkey, in which she played a saucy island girl who was sleeping with a German man of the cloth. Excluding Prince and his on-screen parents, almost every character in the movie is named after the actor who plays him or her.
After the character change from Vanity to Apollonia, the script was drastically revised and many dark scenes were cut. Some of these scenes include Prince and Apollonia having sex in a barn (a concept which was the story behind the 1985 song "Raspberry Beret"); Prince going to Apollonia 6's rehearsal and engaging in a physical fight with the members of The Time; and a scene which featured Prince's mother talking to him about her shaky relationship with his father. In addition, many scenes such as the Lake Minnetonka scene, Apollonia first meeting Morris, and the railyard scene were cut down because of time constraints. Many clips from these scenes were featured, however, in the trailer for the movie as well as the "When Doves Cry" montage.
Principal photography took place almost entirely in Minneapolis, the film features many local landmarks, including the Crystal Court of the IDS Center (also shown in segments of the opening credits to The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and the legendary First Avenue nightclub. First Avenue was paid $100,000 for use of the club in filming; it was closed for 25 days. A notable error, either geographic or taxi fare-related, shows Apollonia running up (and bailing on) a $37.75 cab fare going from the Greyhound Station to the nightclub. In reality, they are just across the street from each other.
The Huntington Hotel, where Apollonia stayed, is located at 752 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014. This was a late pickup shot and is shown in the movie to be across the street from First Avenue. The motorcycle Prince rides in the film is a customized Hondamatic Honda CB400A.
Purple Rain received positive reviews. It currently holds a 74% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes and a 45/100 rating on Metacritic. The film was a box office success, grossing $68,392,977 in the United States.
In 2014 the world's first feature film in a Tuareg language, Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazoughai (Rain the Color of Red with a Little Blue In It), was created as an homage to Purple Rain.
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