Purple Rain: 20th Anniversary Edition

Directed by Albert Magnoli

> > Sep 2004

Purple Rain: 20th Anniversary Edition - Directed by Albert Magnoli
By James KeastLooking back at Prince's breakthrough role on this two-disc reissue, the music keeps getting better and the film keeps getting worse. But there's no denying it's a remarkable accomplishment that has shaped the business and art of the industry. Forget the multitasking teen queens — the Lohan Duffs of the world have nothing on Prince, who exploited his own life for a film tailor-made to further his career while showcasing his intense performances on his home turf: the First Avenue club in Minneapolis, where he not only got his start but where all Purple Rain's concert footage was filmed. First Avenue was the launching pad for the entire Minneapolis scene: Prince and his rivals the Time, and also the Replacements, Husker Du and more, at least if you believe the DVD featurette "The Road to Pop Royalty." That road was paved by Prince's ambition — he wrote all the music (for the Time and Apollonia Six, as well as his own), and knew what was needed to make the film a smash. When hired hack director Albert Magnoli planned a montage and needed a hit single that addressed the film's daddy issue themes, Prince returned the next morning with "When Doves Cry," completed as we all know it now. (At Prince's behest, the director even went to bat with the record company, who wanted the single's bass-less minimalism fleshed out.) In retrospect, Purple Rain prompts nostalgia for one of the most powerful musical moments of the 1980s, but it was a combination of an incredible album, intense, superior concert footage and a year-long tour that made this film one of the few that actually captures a performer not at the height of their fame but on the rise. (Unlike, say, Eminem who was already at the height of his fame for his Purple Rain template, 8 Mile.) If only the strong theme of domestic violence didn't extend to Prince's relationship with Apollonia, who gets the short end of the music stick ("Sex Shooter"? Eewww) and the back of Prince's hand. Plus: featurettes, eight music videos, commentary by director, producer and cinematographer. (Warner)
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