When Prince Rogers Nelson released the concert film Sign O’ The Times, the 29-year old was already a decade into a multifaceted career that would redefine the very nature of pop-stardom as we know it. As a musician, Prince pulled from a wide palette of pop-cultual influences, taking the multidimensional studio auterism of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and Brian Wilson and injecting it with the sexual flair and gender playfullness of Little Richard and David Bowie. Prince would expand his artistic reach into the realm of film with 1984’s smash hit, Purple Rain. Partnering with director Albert Magnoli, Prince would create and star in a semi-autobiographical star vehicle that cemented the popular mythos around him as a complex but brilliant boy-genius. For 1986’s Under The Cherry Moon, Prince took the reigns as director, crafting an ambitious but much-maligned comedic drama that holds the twin misfortunes of having underperformed at the box office and missed the mark amongst critics.
With 1987’s Sign O’ The Times, Prince went back to the core element that made Purple Rain so powerful: the performance. Over the course of an hour, Prince and his band go full-on nuclear, running through a setlist that includes explosive and colorful versions of fan favorites like “Housequake,” “Little Red Corvette,” “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” “It’s Going to be a Beautiful Night” and more. In honor of the film’s 35th Anniversary and as part of their Under the Stars at Clark Park series of music-centered films, West Philly-based cinema publication cinéSPEAK will be hosting a free screening of the 4K remaster of Sign O’ The Times on Saturday, July 9th. Speaking with XPN for this piece, CinéSPEAK’s assistant director of programs, Vernon Jordan III expresses excitement at the series’ potential to tell vital musical stories through film. “If there’s anything to be gleaned from these films about musicians like Prince or international punks in Sirens, it’s that our voices are not small futile things. We should sing and keep singing into the better world.”
With a pre-show DJ set from DuiJi13, hosted by Starfire of Vinyl Tap 215, food trucks and vendors, cinéSPEAK’s screening of Sign O’ The Times promises to be a perfect night out for music and film lovers of all ages.