Like many people across the world, Prince’s death was a great tragedy for me.
He was a significant influence on how I understood music, gender and sexuality, individuality, and the world. I could go on here, but others have already expressed what I felt very beautifully.
But I really felt the need to connect to the community and grieve his passing as well as celebrate his life, so the best option seemed to be to head to the theater to see Purple Rain.
The theatre was nearly sold out, and as soon as the film began, it was obvious that this movie watching experience would be like none other I had ever experienced.
As soon as the movie started rolling (or whatever digital equivalent you want to apply), the audience erupted in cheers and began singing along with the song. It was both fitting and poignant that the first words spoken/sung are: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing called life.” Indeed, that was exactly why we were gathered.
The atmosphere for the entire movie was cathartic, with sincere laughter at the comic bits, jubilance at the musical energy, and sadness at the great talent that is now lost forever. There was singing and crying, and all of it was wonderful.
I would not have been able to connect to the greater sentiment of grief, or to my own, without this experience. This was a theater experience without cynicism, without doubt, without bitterness. It was hopeful, welcoming, and communal.
This, my friends, is the power of movies. This is the power of the theater. May it visit you whenever you pass through the doors of your local cinema.