By Mary Thornton
This past weekend, the historic Avon Theatre in downtown Stamford, Connecticut played multiple showings of the 1984 Prince classic, Purple Rain. Myself and a crowd of older, slightly-inebriated Connecticut natives listened to a talk before the movie started on the influence Prince had on music and the industry in general.
I don't consider myself very knowledgeable about music in general, but everything about his impressive discography was familiar to me. I also grew up with an older brother who would regularly play the Purple Rain album, and actually watching the movie as a kid with my brother was my first and only time seeing it before this night.
Like many movies that seek to bring attention to an already popular artist, the movie relies heavily on both the musical aspect of his life and work (including appearances by Prince proteges Apollonia Kotero and Morris Day), as well as some heavy-handed drama that was largely embellished or made up in the transition from Prince's story to the big screen.
All things considered, once you sit back and accept that this is less of a factual account of a musicians life and more of a wild ride through a influential and uniquely-80's album, everything else starts to feel a whole lot more natural. Often when discussing the relative quality of artistic biographies, the conversation becomes weighed down by a fact-checking competition. Usually any film that achieves a completely accurate (or close enough), representation falls into the same heavy and predictable tone. Last year's Get On Up comes to mind as a biopic of a musician that had great performances and musical segments only to fall flat in telling a story with the style of the musician it represents, and from the reviews it seems like this year's Nina is another one that falls into the same trap.
For an audience of people who knew Prince and his music the way only a true fan could, watching a play-by-play of the artists entire life would not have had the same effect. While I'm sure there are many fans who will be spending the next month playing through the entirety of his massive discography, its nice to know that if you want a solid hour and a half of pure Prince style and songs come to life, Purple Rain isn't going away any time soon.
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