Movies with Isaiah: 'Purple Rain' is a cinematic, musical classic


The '80s was an interesting period that ushered in myriad eclectic forms of entertainment related to fashion, product placement, films, TV series and more importantly the artistic medium of music. Our most prominent artists who solidified the musical landscape of the '80s essentially became legendary immortals that defined the period.

One artist was lauded deservedly as a genius with his talent of being a multi-instrumentalist, with a provocative and electric stage presence, ushering in a style of music coined as "The Minneapolis Sound," incorporating soul, funk, new wave, R&B and elements of rock. The late, great Prince provided a spark that saw him rival the likes of Michael Jackson for '80s supremacy.

In 1984, Prince made his debut in the world of cinema with his film titled "Purple Rain" along with the album of the same name. The quality of films centering on the medium of music in the past or present generally are hit or miss. Depending on the total style, the genre and how it fits within the story itself plays a monumental role in the depth of the feature. "Purple Rain" tells a story of the main character named The Kid (Prince) fronting a popular band in the Minneapolis area at a small local club called First Avenue. Rehearsals, songwriting and live performances become his escape from an abusive household involving nights of his father physically and verbally abusing both him and his mother.

Throughout the film, he's at odds with band members Wendy and Lisa for not performing their composition, and at the same time, one of his rivals - Morris Day, leader of The Time - attempts to use his flashy and charming persona to recruit Kid's musicians over to his band. Morris Day is seeking to have The Revolution removed from the club's band slots and replaced with a girl group of his creation. On the surface, what's presented in full display is the musical capabilities and songwriting talents of Prince. He composed, produced and performed all the music from the soundtrack. Even the songs Morris Day and The Time perform were written by Prince.

The Kid finds himself in a relationship with a new arrival named Apollonia, serving as a unique vixen and seeking musical success for herself. Desperate for her services, Morris Day serves as a manipulative charmer, inserting a metaphorical wedge between the two star-crossed lovers. Very few musical dramas have what could be considered character-oriented stories. Prince wasn't a strong actor by any stretch of the imagination. There's a reason he only has three films as an actor under his filmography.

Performances of Morris Day and Apollonia indicate obvious magnetic chemistry with Prince given their close association. However, despite the shortcomings from an acting perspective, it's listed as one of the greatest musical films in cinematic history. Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation for its cultural significance, the soundtrack and musical score composed by Prince tell the story within the story, presenting themes of bliss, love, sadness, desperation, anger and inspiration.

"Let's Go Crazy," "When Doves Cry," "I Would Die For for You," "Darling Nikki," "The Beautiful Ones" and its title track took the world by storm with critical acclaim. Prince is cemented among legends as one of the many artists who earned an Academy Award for musical contributions to cinema and a Grammy on top of the achievements. The soundtrack/score to "Purple Rain" defined a specific era of entertainment and music that completely immortalized the legacy of Prince. I don't believe one can imagine being a product of the '80s without immediately casting their mind to Prince.

Michael Jackson, Madonna, Weird Al, Lionel Richie and Prince were the absolute definition of the '80s. The film's triumphant and emotional climax of hearing the title track with its gospel, soul, classical and heart-wrenching rock-inspired guitar solo complemented with Prince's soaring vocals sends the feature into the heavenly stratosphere. Even to this day, it's one of my favorite guitar solos of all time. Hearing the original and live recordings gives listeners the experience of how Prince channels his entire essence into the song.

"Purple Rain" is truly a cinematic and musical classic that has earned its place in history. On June 5 and 7, The Beacon Stadium Cinemas 12, as part of Flashback Cinema, will feature the film. June 7 is Prince's birthday, as the film's presentation celebrates a legendary achievement on the day of his literal arrival.

"Purple Rain" is a recommended piece of history, offering nostalgic memories from beginning to end, a classic that will never experience true replication. Visit the theater to celebrate the Purple One's genius on the silver screen. My final verdict is a powerfully resounding 10/10.

Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.