Note to self: the movies from our childhood are never as great as we remember them to be.

Posted on 19.01.2012

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I rented Purple Rain and Barbarella, two movies that I saw as a child, recently. I decided to rent them because I felt like there were parts of both movies that I didn’t remember. Because of this, I couldn’t remember what was so great about the movies, and I wanted to remember.

I watched Purple Rain first. This movie is something of a cult classic, although not on the same scale as movies like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hairspray, Grease or the Labyrinth. I’m not exactly sure what makes movies ‘cult films’ or classics, although I have heard that it’s often the director, or one of the actors, or something to that degree. In considering all of the ‘cult films’ that I can think of, one thing comes to mind: terrible acting, or nearly terrible acting.

And that’s what I thought about as I watched Purple Rain. I didn’t go INTO watching the movie thinking that, but as it played out, this was what was on my mind.

Seriously, Purple Rain is a pretty terrible movie. I know this is sacrilege, but don’t even try to deny it. The selling points are few. Sure, it’s mostly autobiographical about the Purple One. Sure, it’s got him singing and generally walking around being Prince in it, which might be sexy, if you find Prince sexy. But that might be where the excellence ends, if it even began in the first place.

This had to be one of the worst-acted films I’ve seen in a LONG time. There isn’t even that much dialogue with which to screw this movie up, but they still managed. What I especially loved was the ‘boy meets girl’ series of events that went down. I’d like to provide a summary of them, to both prove how terrible this storyline was, but also to show how far the idea of ‘women’s lib’ has come since the 80’s. Because compared to this film, we’re highly advanced as a species, here in the 10’s. For the most part:

Boy and girl meet in bar, stands behind her wearing his sunglasses (indoors, at night) looking generally creepy.

Boy and girl run into each other on the street the following day, he takes her bracelet/jewelry item and then they get on his bike and drive to the country, where he tricks her into skinny-dipping and then pretends to leave her. Of course, after all of this, they go back to his place and make sweet, purple love. He brings her home the next day.

Girl is, after one night, apparently smitten enough to pawn her jewelry in order to buy boy a really expensive-looking guitar. She presents it to him the following evening, and tells him about her plans to join a girl band. Boy slaps her, JUST LIKE HIS FATHER BEATS HIS MOTHER. She leaves.

Next evening, she goes with her manager to boy’s show at club, boy sees her and OF COURSE performs songs generally directed at her that make her cry. This is like the second time this has happened, and it makes you wonder if the  band ever had a set list BEFORE going on-stage, or if he changed it up specifically to fuck with said girl. OR MAYBE IT WAS A HUGE COINCIDENCE AND THOSE WERE THE PLANNED SONGS THE WHOLE TIME!!!11!!

Next evening, girl performs at a club across town, and then her manager tries to take advantage of her after the show. Boy shows up on his bike and generally looks like a badass, ‘rescues’ the girl and they ride off into the evening. All is well, for now.

IN WHAT WORLD does this even happen? Did it EVER happen?

Maybe being into someone is normal, but I certainly wouldn’t pawn my jewelry or anything to buy a guy I hardly knew a guitar after ONE NIGHT of decent sex. But maybe I’m different. And if someone ever slapped me, even once, that would be the end of it. Period. I certainly wouldn’t get on his bike a few days later in order to get away from my creepy manager, I’d effing walk home. Or take a cab, since I’m in NYC and all.

This is the beginning of a dysfunctional relationship. Period. And what’s with the 80’s and all of the angsty acting?

***

Then came Barbarella, a day later. All I can say is that it’s SO obvious that this movie was made in a sex-positive, pre-AIDS world. The movie has more sex scenes than plot twists in it, although we’re spared the visuals and instead treated to some happy disco-style music as the act takes place.

I kind of love all of the derogatory ways in which they speak about ‘barbarians’ and ‘the past’:

“make love? but no one’s done that for centuries!…
‘why not?’
”Cause it was proven to be distracting and a danger to maximum efficiency! And… and because it was pointless to continue it when other substitutes for ego support and self-esteem were made available

“we don’t know anything about Tau Ceti or its inhabitants’
‘So they could still be living in a primitive state of neurotic irresponsibility?’ (referring to wars, weapons)

(holding a gun, a weapon they had to take from a museum) ‘armed, like a naked savage!’

All I remembered about Barbarella from my childhood was the birds scene, the angel, and the outfits. It seems that I didn’t necessarily lose much in my memory. Although I didn’t know about the band Duran Duran at age 6 or 7, it’s easy to see now where they got their name from, and wonderfully ironic that they wrote a song called ‘Electric Barbarella’.

So now that I’ve re-watched both movies, I don’t think I need to ever see either of them again. My memory is sealed, now. I think it’s better if some things, and some movies, stay in the past. Due to this decision and overwhelming evidence, I’m reconsidering the deep-seated necessity I feel to re-watch movies like The Chipmunks Great Adventure, the Thundercats movie, and Nearly No Christmas. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.

This doesn’t mean I love the Labyrinth or the Rocky Horror Picture Show any less, though. I will watch David Bowie and Tim Curry as often as I can. Some movies are solid.

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Posted in: movies