It’s unfortunate that it took Prince’s untimely death for me to finally see Purple Rain. Despite the loss of a renowned artist, seeing it for the first time at The Little Theatre in Rochester, NY was the perfect way to experience this slice of rock B-movie heaven.
The energy and excitement entering the sold out tribute screening of the 1984 film was palpable. The majority of the crowd was dressed in purple and some had Purple Rain t-shirts on, fully prepared to commemorate such a towering figure in the entertainment industry.
Once the film began, the excitement never subsided. The Warner Bros. banner came up and mere seconds later, the words “Dearly beloved” were spoken, the intro to “Let’s Go Crazy” and the crowd erupted in applause. The film, which follows Prince’s character The Kid, begins with the toe-tapping energetic song.
Purple Rain is loosely based on Prince’s life and his origins as a musician and we can see much of that in The Kid. He’s a soft-spoken, mystery man of few words, a badass in heels and on a motorcycle. But once he’s on the stage, a ferocious animal is unleashed.
The film has never been regarded as any kind of classic cinema. It’s energy is undeniable and even as hokey as its narrative might play in 2016, it’s a complete blast. Not everyone was lucky enough to see Prince in concert but watching Purple Rain in a crowded movie theater gave some of us the chance to feel like we had that experience.
Seeing a tribute screening of Purple Rain was a prime example of the excitement of going to the movies. Though you don’t always want people around you singing and clapping along to the film with Purple Rain you wouldn’t want it any other way. You want to go crazy with your fellow moviegoers.
Purple Rain, as to be expected, is punctuated with poignancy watching it just over a week after Prince’s passing. A hush fell over the crowd once the music began for the titular anthem. As soon as The Kid sang those first lines – “I never meant to cause you any sorrow. I never meant to cause you any pain” – everyone fell silent and watched in awe. There were tears among the crowd.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe my level of fandom of Prince. I’ve loved some of his well-known and bona fide classic songs for forever but don’t feel right calling myself a diehard fan. I’ve always enjoyed his music and appreciated how cool he made being “different”. If you watch an interview Prince did with Larry King, he shoots down the notion he is weird or different. “Compared to what?” Prince retorts to King’s comments about not conforming to industry standards. Go Prince.