I was super excited and truly honored to be “in the number” to present at the first international academic Prince conference, Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince in Manchester, England, in May 2017, on Prince in Under The Cherry Moon! Finally, my academic and music worlds collided!
I spoke on the Film and Visual Art Panel on Thursday about, Under the Cherry Moon: Prince, as his most authentic self. Here’s the abstract of my talk:
While Under The Cherry Moon (UTCM), Prince’s second feature film, is often maligned by most, the film is actually the ultimate public document of Prince as his most authentic self. While Purple Rain presents one side of Prince, the aloof artifice he shared with the public, UTCM represents him as he truly was with his close friends and associates, hilariously funny.
Early on, you see glimpses of Prince’s sense of humor through songs he penned for The Time (such as Tricky and Movie Star), but with the release of UTCM Prince’s quick wit was unveiled and showcased at its finest. In fact, the comedic timing of the banter between Prince and Jerome Benton in this film rivals, not only that of Morris Day and Jerome in Purple Rain, but also Laurel & Hardy and other comedy duos. This film is also a testament to Prince’s countercultural stance — always embrace doing the opposite of what is expected.
On the heels of the massive success of Purple Rain, most artists would have followed up with a sequel, but Prince did not. Overall, UTCM was a daring and artistic, buddy film, shot on location in France in black and white. The film broke social norms at the time by turning race (interracial relationships) and sexuality (bisexuality) on their heads. The themes of duality that Prince addressed throughout his entire musical catalog persist from start to finish in UTCM: life and death, good and bad, love and lust, & rich and poor. However, the most pervasive theme throughout UTCM is fun. In fact, Prince’s final words in the film were, “We had fun. Didn’t we?” In the context of Prince’s recent passing, these words have never meant more than they do now.