In the continued vein of honoring late, long-lost geniuses, the Art Theatre of Long Beach announced it will be screening Prince’s cult classic Purple Rain, celebrating the prolific musician, composer and performer’s life. The screenings will take place tonight and next Friday at 11:00PM.
The late 57-year-old artist, widely regarded as a genius and virtuoso at a seemingly unlimited number of instruments, died Thursday of unknown causes at his estate in Minnesota.
His greatest cinematic achievement, most agree, was the performance he left behind in Purple Rain. Roger Ebert himself was a huge fan, Richard Roeper wrote yesterday for the Chicago Sun Times.
He placed it at No. 10 on his list of the best films of 1984, according to Roeper, saying “It’s one of the best combinations I’ve seen of rock music and dramatic information.”
Many who watched the film were moved by Prince’s effortless sensuality and praised the movie’s powerful use of extended concert scenes to propel the story line forward. However, the movie also relied on Prince’s first foray into acting—he was commended for his risk taking in embracing purely dramatic acting scenes.
The film seizes Prince’s own rough Minnesotan background as inspiration for a fictional tale of “The Kid”—the frontman for a Minneapolis-based band, The Revolution. He begins performing to escape his emotionally and physically abusive father, and his emotionally abusive mother.
Disgruntled female band members, frustrated with the way the Kid leads the band, eventually form an all-female, commercial group with the Kid’s girlfriend, who is new to Minneapolis.
Continued strife and self-destructive moments bring the Kid to new lows: He performs a song that embarrasses his girlfriend, Appollonia, he slaps her (mirroring his father’s abusive tendencies), and tears his home apart before witnessing his father shooting himself in the head.
The film closes with a decisive moment on behalf of the Kid: he discovers music written by his father and the women in the girl group, builds upon the composition, and performs a piece, crediting the women, in a climactic performance that brings tears to the audience. Appollonia, tears streaming down her face, embraces him, and the crowd approves, demanding an encore.
Prince went on to act and direct his own films, but Purple Rain stands out the pantheon of cinematic Prince, for both his performance and number one hits “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry.” In fact, at one point in 1984 Prince had the No. 1 album, single and film, simultaneously, according to the New York Times.
Those around the world have collectively mourned the artist’s death: Michelle Obama herself wore purple when she met Queen Elizabeth earlier today.
“He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer. ‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative,” said President Obama in a statement for the New York Times.
Prince notably broke free of gender norms, with his penchant for eyeliner and high heels, favoring an androgynous aesthetic. He also paved the way for increased racial equality, signing a contract with full creative control when he initially joined the Warner Brothers’ record label (preceding, of course, his breaking with the label in the 90s and painting his cheek with the word “slave” in describing his relationship with the company).
His songs were but a small token of his genius: some of his greatest hits were written for other artists, including Sinead O' Conner's"Nothing Compares 2 U," The Times' "Jungle Love," and Chaka Kahn's "I Feel For You."
Tonight’s screening will allow Long Beach fans a chance to experience the magic of Prince's electric performances again, retaining a hold of a small part of Prince's legacy in a place where he’ll live on forever.
The Art Theatre of Long Beach is located at 2025 East Fourth Street. Screenings will occur tonight, April 22 and next Friday, April 29 at 11:00PM. Tickets are $11 for adults, $8 for children, available here.
For more information, visit the Art Theatre’s website here.