I never saw Purple Rain when it came out in 1984. It was the summer before 8th grade for me, and I could not get into an R-rated movie. A couple of years later, I tried to watch it on HBO. I caught it about half way through, and back then we couldn’t rewind TV (dark times). Of course, right when Prince was making love to a huge speaker and begging Darling Nikki to come back, my step-dad walked in.
We lived in a small apartment, and the living room TV was the only one that had HBO. My dad walked in the front door and saw the screen instantly. “What’s this GAHBAGE?” He yelled in his Boston accent.
I felt my face get hot. “Um, it’s a movie. Um, Purple Rain.” I stammered.
“A movie! Why do you wanna watch smut like that? Shut that off!”
So, I did as I was told and went in my room to read V.C Andrews books, also smut. Since I had to turn off the TV and leave the room in shame, and it was 1987 and no cool pirated copies were on YouTube, I never ended up seeing Purple Rain until this week.
After Prince died, theaters decided to show Purple Rain. My friend bought a bunch of tickets to a local showing, so my husband and I decided to go. As I stared up at the screen from my second row reclining seat, the first thing I noticed was the blur. No, I wasn’t drunk, even though this fancy theater does have a bar. The screen appeared blurry. But it wasn’t. It was just in glorious 1984 high tech film. You see, young people, there was a time before HD. Yes, they were dark times. We used to not be able to see every pore and wrinkle on someone’s face. It was truly a tragedy.
My son and his girlfriend joined my husband, friends and me to see the movie. It’s ok; they aren’t little kids. They are 19 and 20, and the girlfriend covered my son’s eyes during certain, um, scenes with Apollonia. Even so, it was kind of awkward to be sitting two seats away from my baby boy when Apollonia’s obviously enhanced breasts covered the entire screen. I’m glad my dad didn’t walk in during THAT when I was a teen.
After the movie, on the way home, my son commented on the movie and how it really wasn’t a movie, more of a music video. He didn’t say anything about Apollonia’s boobs or leather outfit, instead he wondered what the writers’ meeting for Purple Rain must have been like. According to my son, it went something like this.
Writer 1: Well, we have an hour of Prince performing. Maybe we should throw in a light plot, or something.
Writer 2: He could be in love, and maybe smack a woman here and there.
Writer 3: And The Time can play two songs and throw another woman in a dumpster.
Writer 1: OK! Sounds like we got a movie.
My son is probably right. While I will always love Prince’s music. Purple Rain was not a great movie. It was kind of like a Lifetime movie with a good sound track. It had all of the necessary elements: domestic violence, alcoholism, jealousy, and someone clinging to life in a hospital bed. The only thing it was missing was a court scene, really. They probably should have just left the plot part out and just marketed it as one long music video.
Even though it was not the best written film ever, it did hold my attention. I had to pee through most of it, but I kept holding it because I did not want to miss anything. Then, when Apollonia 6 took the stage, I knew I had time to run to the bathroom. I just wasn’t interested in women in lingerie singing a bad pop song, or women in lingerie in general.
I’m not going to lie. I held back tears throughout the entire movie. Most of the time, I was sitting there thinking, “I can’t believe he’s dead. Fifty-seven is too young.” Plus, I’m 44 and ½. Fifty-seven is right around the corner for me. Well, maybe not right around the corner. It’s more like half way across town and around the bend, but still. It’s not that far off. I was 12 when I heard my first Prince song. Life has slipped by so quickly.
Other times I was wondering how he was that skinny. I only saw two foods in movie, Doritos and gummy bears. I don’t think he ate either of them. Seriously, he had the physique of a prepubescent girl. I also really wondered where he got his clothes. Was there a Napoleon R Us store in the 80’s? There was no Amazon, so it wasn’t like it was easy to find real 1799 vintage French Army attire.
It seems like A LOT of great musicians have died this year already, and we are not even half way through the year. I guess this is part of being middle aged. The people we looked up to when we were young are dropping like butts on toilet seats at Taco Bell. I keeping my fingers crossed that Billy Joel, Don Henley, and every member of Guns and Roses will be around for years and years. All musicians who found fame in the 80’s need to be checked on daily, and possibly wrapped in protective gear. Who do you want to bubble wrap? Let me hear from you in the comment section.