Purple Rain: Special Edition (1984)

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Released 2-Feb-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Trailer-Prince: The Trailers
Featurette-First Avenue: The Road To Pop Royalty
Featurette-Purple Rain: Backstage Pass
Featurette-Riffs, Ruffles And A Revolution
Featurette-MTV Premiere Party
Music Video-Purple Rain: The Videos
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 106:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Albert Magnoli
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Prince
Apollonia Kotero
Morris Day
Olga Karlatos
Clarence, III Williams
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Prince


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

" Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry"

     Purple Rain as a movie is an engaging but on many levels unsatisfying experience. In my opinion Prince ranks with Michael Jackson as THE most influential musical artist of his era, and has more talent in his little finger that most contemporaries could even dream of. Breaking the film into pieces we have moments of brilliance when Prince and the Revolution are performing, and cringe-worthy, cliché ridden attempts at drama in between. How much of Purple Rain is based on true events is up for conjecture but certainly much of the plot is meant to be auto-biographical - including his troubled family life and the Minneapolis music scene in which he emerged.

     In Purple Rain Prince is known as "The Kid", leader of the band the Revolution who vie for stage space in the Minneapolis night club "First Avenue Club and Seventh Street Entry". Their main rivals are a funk band "The Time" led by Morris Day and Jerome Benton, who are proving more popular at the club than the Revolution. Day< and Benton never miss a chance of putting Prince and the Revolution down, and delight in their greater popularity on stage. The Kid’s home life is also troubled as his father (Clarence Williams III), who is a frustrated music writer and performer himself, abuses both his wife (Olga Karlatos) and his son. Into this scene enters Appolonia (Apollonia Kotero), an aspiring singer and dancer who is looking for work and who immediately attracts the attention of both the Kid and Morris Day. Kid and Appolonia soon form an intimate relationship which is interrupted when Appolonia accepts a working proposal from the scheming Day. This development seems to ignite the Kid's frustrations and he lashes out, probably emulating scenes witnessed many time at home. The sometimes abusive push-pull relationship with Appolonia is mirrored by tensions within the Revolution, as band members Lisa (Lisa Coleman) and Wendy (Wendy Melvoin) remain frustrated by the Kid's dismissive attitude to their song writing aspirations. Whether Kid can mend his relationship with Appolonia, the band, and connect with his troubled father are questions to be answered.

     With inexperienced director Albert Magnoli at the helm, and with most actors playing themselves, you probably wouldn't expect great performances – and largely this is true. Prince spends a lot of time brooding into the camera, and Appolonia is no Ingrid Bergman (apart from the fresh good looks). Probably Day and Benton are the most effective of the non-actors although their usually goofy interchanges could be seen as cartoonish – if not racially offensive to some. There's even a not too subtle reworking of the famous Abbott and Costello "Who's on First" routine, where Benton and Day are trying to clarify a password. The musical performances however really shine with Magnoli showing great pre-MTV skills in staging the Revolution and The Time sequences. I had not previously heard of The Time and was pleasantly surprised by their brand of George Clinton-like funk. Having listened to the Purple Rain CD countless times I knew tracks like Let's Go Crazy and Darling Nikki backwards and the Revolution did not disappoint. Prince is simply electric with the band complementing him perfectly. The penultimate performance of Purple Rain is genuinely moving as Prince seems to reconnect with his band, girlfriend and the audience. Closing the show as the perfect climax (refer to the not too subtle guitar symbolism at the end) is I Would Die 4 U/Baby I'm A Star which raises the bar to an even higher level. Transitioning from this to the credits however is rather abrupt and awkward which unfortunately spoilt the closing mood for me somewhat.

    Unfortunately there is little quality video material of Prince in concert available, and so Purple Rain is a valuable addition to any fan's collection. Yes, the acting and script is often lame but boy - do the musical numbers by Prince and his band make up for it. The Revolution had many line-up changes over the years but fortunately I think we have here the definitive line-up. With very few female band members in 1980s rock it is great to see Wendy and Lisa really mix it up with the boys and bounce off Prince's overt sexuality. Being a digitally remastered release I was hopeful of a video and audio transfer that would do the artist justice.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This 1.85:1 aspect and 16x9 enhanced transfer has been digitally remastered and exhibits no significant flaws or artefacts. There is some low level noise giving a grainy appearance in dark scenes, and also grain arising from digital noise during concert sequences when the lighting is bright and prominent. Colours overall are quite muted with outdoor scenes being dulled by the bleak Minnesota weather and indoor scenes affected by the often dim lighting and haze. Cross colouration and colour bleeding were not noticed and there was no mpeg macro blocking artefacts. There was some telecine wobble in the opening and closing credits.

     The transfer is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio which matches the theatrical release.

     The picture detail was sharp enough throughout considering the age of the source material and there was no edge enhancement outlines detected. There were no film artefacts.

     This is a dual layer disc but I saw no sign of the layer change on my equipment.

     There are subtitles in English which seemed accurate enough, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Romanian, and others.

     Overall a very good video transfer is evidenced here.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio was presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 K/bs as default and a supplementary commentary using Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 K/bs. Disappointingly the song tracks sound as if they are stereo only with very little centre channel activity at all. They are also quite dull – so much so that you could be excused for thinking they were meant for background music only. Turning up the volume during the concert sequences helps a lot but then it becomes out of balance with the dialogue which is very clear and centre channel orientated. Overall this is not a great audio mix with inconsistent treatment of the content. The average audio score rating reflects this inconsistency.

     There are no audio synchronisation problems.

     The subwoofer is used effectively throughout and the surrounds come into play to simulate the audience interaction.

     The French language audio track is also Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 K/bs. It seems to be dubbed well enough although the voices are somewhat amusing at times.

     This audio track only rates as good which is unfortunate for a music dominated film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There is a comprehensive selection of extras with most being included on the second disc. Unlike the main feature none of the older videos are digitally remastered and suffer accordingly. The three featurettes (excluding the MTV party) however look and sound very good. The two bonus concert video clips are outstanding for the content rather than the appearance. Check out the I Would Die 4 U/Baby I’m A Star video in particular. WOW! - Prince is simply a genius.

Menu

     Computer generated animated silhouette of a posing Prince which leads to a static menu with looping audio.

Commentary

     Commentary track including director Magnoli, cinematographer Donald Thorin, and co-producer Bob Cavallo. Quite interesting although not giving any great insights into working with the enigmatic Prince and his entourage. Focus is mostly on the production of the movie, including the difficulties faced such as the Minnesota winter and casting the Appolonia character.

Trailers (4:25)

     Three trailers for Purple Rain, Under The Cherry Moon, and Graffiti Bridge with 1.78:1 aspect and Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192K/bs.

First Avenue: The Road to Pop Royalty (12:22)

     1.78:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192K/bs. Commentary from members of the Revolution and other music notables recounting the history of the First Avenue Club and its influence on the Minneapolis music scene.

Purple Rain: Backstage Pass (29:44)

     1.78:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192K/bs. Very interesting documentary on the conception and making of the Purple Rain movie including interviews with members of Revolution, the production team and other music luminaries. Covers casting difficulties, recruitment of the production team, insights into filming, writing the screenplay, and incorporation of the songs. One interesting aside is how Prince wrote When Doves Fly one night after a filler song was requested. Quite a filler indeed!

Riffs, Ruffles and a Revolution : The Impact and Influence Of Purple Rain (10:00)

     1.78:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192K/bs. A discussion on the look and fashions of Purple Rain and how it catapulted Prince's career and impacted on society and the music scene. Quite interesting.

MTV Premiere Party (27:51)

     1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192K/bs.In my opinion this is a fairly awful behind the scenes filming of the Purple Rain MTV party. Notable for tasteless 1980s hair and fashions with inane questioning by the annoying host and vacuous celebrities. Somewhat amusing to see Eddie Murphy, Weird Al" Yankovic and others making it all seem so important.

Purple Rain: The Videos

     Prince and The Revolution

     Let’s Go Crazy (4:04) - 1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - MTV video.

     Take Me With U (4:53) - 1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - Live concert performance.

     When Doves Cry (5:58) - 1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - MTV video.

     I Would Die 4 U/Baby I’m A Star (17:49) - 1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - Live concert performance.

     Purple Rain (7:07) - 1.78:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - from the movie.

     The Time

     Jungle Love (3:26) - 1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - MTV video.

     The Bird (3:48) - 1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - MTV video.

     Apollonia 6

     Sex Shooter (4:39) - 1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192Kb/s - MTV video.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Versions available seem identical part from language selections and the PAL or NTSC formatting. The region 4 version is therefore recommended.

Summary

     In summary, I think you would have to be a fan of Prince and his music to completely enjoy Purple Rain. The acting, storyline, and dialogue is B grade at best, however the musical interludes are simply outstanding. Prince is in the top echelon of songwriters and performers, and The Time are great fun on stage. Purple Rain demands respect as a landmark film in that it's the first real "rock musical" where the music is not simply thrown in but serves to complement and enhance the story itself. It is also the first film to use MTV-like video scenes. The overall plot rating awarded is a compromise between the brilliant concert footage and the second rate plot and acting. Despite its flaws Purple Rain remains a must see film for Prince fans and lovers of rock music. Remastering the audio for blu-ray would be a huge boost to the appeal of this film and we can only hope that this happens soon.

     The video quality is very good. The audio quality is good. Extras are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Friday, June 25, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationDenon AVR-3808 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub

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