Catalog # B0002CTSV8
Release Year August 24, 2004
DVD Length 100 Mins.
Date/Venue 1.85:1 Widescreen Movie
Mike's Comments(rates this release 3.5/5.0)
I guess I understand why this movie was so savagely criticized during it's year of release, 1986. Prince was still enjoying huge popularity based largely on the success of "Purple Rain," both the film and the soundtrack. And critics love to knock someone off a pedestal, which is what they did to Prince in those days. Many claimed that the movie was nothing more than an ego trip. They couldn't believe Prince had the nerve to fire the director and then assume that role himself. It was all way too harsh criticism for a movie that isn't trying to be anything more than a fun romantic comedy.
Of course, poor critical response alone doesn't usually keep the public from making a movie popular. Yet "Under the Cherry Moon" was a bomb at he box office. Probably the main reason for this is that the movie, although shot in color, was released in black-and-white. For some unfathomable reason, the general movie-going public is more often than not horrified at the prospect of seeing a black-and-white movie. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that had the movie been released in color that people would have flocked to it in droves. I'm only saying that it would have attracted more of an audience if it had been in color. I will acknowledge that this movie's target audience is Prince fans. Since I am one myself, and have been most of my life, I'm not the most entirely objective viewer.
But I make no apologies for my love of this movie. It's not a "guilty pleasure" for me, because I proudly hold this as one of my favorites. Since it's DVD release in 2004, this has become one of my most-watched discs in my collection.
The soundtrack is KILLER, the tunes make up one of the best Prince albums ever. There's even some great stuff heard in the movie that didn't make the album (some of which was issued on 12" vinyl). Plus, I think the movie looks great - the cinematographer was Michael Ballhaus, who has multiple Academy Award nominations to his credit (and was the DP on numerous Martin Scorsese classics). I wonder how the movie would feel in color, but I do think black-and-white was the right way to go. Even though the movie is set in then-contemporary times, it has the feel of something from the '30s.
There are so many classic moments in this movie, I won't try to list them all. But here are a few... Christopher Tracy (Prince) giving his "Bela Lugosi eyes"...Tricky (Jerome Benton) tossing rose petals into the tub while Christopher takes a bath...Christopher freaking out when he sees bats at the eatery...the "Wreka Stow" scene...the car race between Christopher and Mary Sharon (Kristen Scott Thomas).
As for the acting, I've heard a lot of people saying that Prince's performance was no good. I don't see much truth in that claim. After being so serious in "Purple Rain," it was a nice contrast to see him so loose and funny in this. Jerome Benton proved he could do just fine even without Morris Day at his side (as in "Purple Rain") - I'm surprised Jerome hasn't done much additional acting outside of Prince movies. And obviously Kristen Scott Thomas moved on from this, her first major role, to become an Oscar-nominated, highly repected leading lady.
How is the DVD presentation? Pretty good, for such a largely overlooked movie. The widescreen transfer and 2.0 stereo mix aren't anything phenomenal, but get the job done nonetheless; the movie looks and sounds fine. As for features, anyone expecting a full-blown Special Edition like the 2-disc "Purple Rain" will be disappointed. But at least it's not a completely bare-bones release - four music videos are included, though unfortunately not presented in optimal audio/visual quality (though they are passable, I would've preferred 5.1 mixes). The highlight is the live performance of "anotherlover" which was taken from a never-released (at least not domestically, not sure if it saw the light of day anywhere outside the U.S.) concert video documenting the Parade tour.
MTV held an interesting (i.e.- very weird) contest to determine where "Under the Cherry Moon" would have it's world premiere. The ten-thousandth caller to an MTV hotline would accompany Prince to the premiere, which would be held in their hometown. MTV ran a special that covered the premiere party - and unlike the premiere of "Purple Rain" unfortunately this program is not to be found on "Under the Cherry Moon"'s DVD release. Lisa Barber was the contest winner, and the movie did indeed premiere in her hometown of Sheridan, Wyoming - a very unusual place for a big movie to premiere. When asked what he thought of the town of Sheridan, Prince summed it up with a single word: "Purple."
Ultimately, 'Under the Cherry Moon' is a classy, tasteful, entertaining, musical extravagansa which only Prince could have pulled off. In retrospect, it is not in any way a bad film, and is possibly (dare I say it?) better than 'Purple Rain' - the music is just as good, and the acting far better! If only the outcome of Christopher and Mary's romance could have been destined for happiness, not tragedy...still, as Prince sings in 'Sometimes it Snows in April' 'Sometimes, life ain't always the way...'
Copyright 2008 UG2P