This weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Prince’s cinematic opus, Purple Rain. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I rewatched it for about the 30th time and jotted down a few thoughts. Thirty of them, to be specific. Perhaps you’re sensing a theme here.
And away we go:
1) The plot of Purple Rain, if you haven’t seen it, and shame on you if you haven’t, is as follows: Prince plays The Kid, a very Prince-like musician who overcomes a Prince-like home life to win over the audience and a gorgeous woman in a very Prince-like manner. He also has a purple motorcycle, which he rides all over Minnesota, sometimes for transportation and sometimes for deep thinking during montages.
2) It’s kind of a mess. I mean that with all the love in the world, both for the film and for Prince. But it is. One minute it’s a HEAVY tale about a son struggling not to follow in his father’s abusive footsteps, the next there’s an extended, vaudevillian “Who’s On First?” gag about passwords for picking up girls. This wouldn’t be an impossible problem to overcome if a solid 40% of the film weren’t musical performances and motorcycle brooding, but that makes it a bit of a tight squeeze for those wild swings in tone.
3) But who gives a sh*t? I just said 40% of the movie is Prince performing his songs and cruising around on a dang purple motorcycle. Four stars.
4) Prince’s love interest is a woman named Apollonia. Apollonia has come to Minneapolis from noted barren music wasteland New Orleans, Louisiana to try to kick start her music career. She says this last thing out loud and no one laughs at her. Purple Rain is magical.
5) All she brought with her from NoLa, apparently, was a dream and a suitcase full of lingerie and leather. She fits in perfectly. Example: These are the outfits she and Prince wear to go window shopping in downtown Minneapolis. Sensible and practical, if nothing else.
6) Whenever people mention Apollonia they tend to jump right to the “Purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka” scene. There are a few reasons for this, ranging from the fact that an attractive woman jumps almost completely nude into a frigid lake, to the legendary Chappelle’s Show sketch, to the way “Minnetonka” rolls off the tongue in the same sentence as the word “purify.” It’s a fun collection of syllables to say out loud. Go ahead. Try it a few times. I think you’ll agree.