Published On: Sun, Apr 24th, 2016

Prince film career tale of success and failure



LOS ANGELES: Three feature films, an Oscar — and several Razzies.

Prince’s film career blazed brightly but briefly compared to his 40-year reign in music, even if he left his mark on Hollywood with countless movie and television soundtracks.

Like many other music stars from Madonna to David Bowie and Michael Jackson, Prince’s time in front of and behind the camera left a very faint trace compared to his huge impact in the music studio and on stage.

From the success of “Purple Rain” in 1984 to the failures of “Under the Cherry Moon” (1986) and “Graffiti Bridge” (1990), Prince’s film career lasted a mere six years.

But he racked up an Oscar and a Golden Globe — as well as a handful of Razzie Awards, the satirical prizes handed out to the worst film performances.

Photogenic, flamboyant, adept at playing sexual and androgynous roles in videos and during his stage performances, Prince Rogers Nelson wanted to be in film very early in his career.

“Prince’s films and videos add up to one long, fascinating post-modern striptease, all knowing smiles and salacious glances at the camera, showing everything but revealing nothing,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote this week, shortly after his death at age 57.

– Success and failure –

Prince emerged on the Hollywood scene when the album that had established him as a major pop star, “Purple Rain,” was made into a semi-autobiographical film about a young musician — “The Kid,” after Prince’s nickname “the Kid from Minneapolis” — from a dysfunctional family trying to make his name.

Directed by Albert Magnoli, “Purple Rain” attracted an audience that extended far beyond the ranks of Prince’s music fans and earned him an Oscar for best movie soundtrack.

Made on a relatively paltry budget of $7 million, “Purple Rain” generated more than $68 million at the US box office.

Prince’s label Warner Bros. saw the film as “useful only to the extent to which it could augment Prince’s music career,” said Landon Palmer, a University of Indiana researcher who specializes in rock musicians in film.

“The fact that the film became a phenomenon on its own took the studio by surprise.”

Buoyed by its success, Prince went behind the camera to direct the ambitious musical “Under the Cherry Moon,” filmed in back and white, in which he acts, sings and dances, playing a gigolo on the French Riviera attempting to seduce a wealthy heiress, played by Kristin Scott Thomas in her first major film role.

The soundtrack includes the hits “Kiss” and “Girls & Boys.”

Critically panned, the film was a commercial failure.

“Graffiti Bridge,” fared even worse. A sequel to “Purple Rain,” it follows the Kid’s future life as a performer who battles for control of a club he co-owns. Savaged by critics, it earned only $4.5 million in US theaters, and the soundtrack faded into obscurity.

Prince won Razzie Awards for Worst Director, Worst Actor and Worst Song in 1987, and was nominated for “Worst Actor of the Century” — which went to Sylvester Stallone.

Failure for “Graffiti Bridge” spelled the end of Prince’s big-screen dreams.

– Prolific output –

“While Prince’s career as a screen actor is certainly limited… his screen career is undeniably his own, successful or not,” Palmer said.

“Like so much of his career, Prince sought to exercise absolute creative control and autonomy over his often idiosyncratic vision, and ‘Under the Cherry Moon’ and ‘Graffiti Bridge’ are as much a part of his unique creative personality as the albums with which these films are associated.”

Still, Prince continued to provide soundtracks for a vast number of movies and television shows — a total of 166, according to the authoritative website

In 2007, his music for the animated film “Happy Feet” earned him a Golden Globe.

Among his most notable soundtracks, the music for Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989), which sold millions of copies, bailed out the artist, who was struggling through the first gaps in his musical career amid tensions with Warner Bros.

Prince’s role reflected the penchant of film studios at the time, which were keen to cross-promote movies with hit pop soundtracks, Palmer said.

“The ‘Batman’ soundtrack better represents what Hollywood was trying to get out of rock stars during the 1980s than any of his onscreen appearances.” –AFP

News Source GMANews

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology