Condemned for years to a truly mediocre DVD version, Prince's epochal 1984 effort Purple Rain has finally been awarded the reissue it was waiting for. With commentaries, previously-unseen documentaries and numerous pop videos, this 20th anniversary edition has more than enough bells and whistles on it to compensate for the failings of its DVD predecessor.
All of which, of course, wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference if the film itself wasn't up to scratch. Purple Rain, fortunately, doesn't have this problem. It is, quite possibly, the Greatest Vanity Picture Ever: a monumental edifice to the ego, excess and brilliance of the little man on whose life it is very loosely based. Prince plays The Kid, a talented musician who must rise above his turbulent family life and self-obsession if he is to get with the hot chick and have everyone love his ass forevermore. It's contrived stuff, but surprisingly well-played: Prince himself is pretty effective, Clarence Williams III delivers a nuanced turn as his dad, and Morris Day and Jerome Benton do a neat comedy double-act as The Kid's rivals.
That said, the drama is pretty incidental to the musical set-pieces: Prince's place is on stage, and he doesn't disappoint here - be it getting jiggy with a speaker stack in "Darlin Nicki", or putting his heart on his spangled sleeve for the title track. Whilst parts of the film may now seem hilariously dated - dig the motorcyle, the formation dancers, and the "tough" fellas in the crowd - there's no denying the impact and vitality of the stageshow itself. And, as a period piece, this one beats the competition hands down.