25 Years Ago: Prince Stitches Together a ‘3 Chains o’ Gold’ Movie
Prince wasn't one to let people tell him what he could and could not do. So when Hollywood's demand to see him on the big screen dried up, he found a way to keep making movies.
Undeterred by the theatrical flops of his previous film ventures (1986's Under the Cherry Moon and 1990's Graffiti Bridge), Prince kept exploring the format with 3 Chains o' Gold, which was released on Aug. 16, 1994. Depending on your scorecard, you could either call this long-form home video his fourth feature film, or a loosely connected series of short-form videos all taken from 1992's the Love Symbol Album.
Directed by Prince under the Paisley Park aegis alongside Sotera Tschetter, Parris Patton and Randee St. Nicholas, 3 Chains o' Gold starred Prince, then-girlfriend Mayte and the New Power Generation. Most of the 73-minute movie was filmed at Paisley Park Studios, with parts also shot in Egypt when Mayte traveled there with St. Nicholas in 1991. Journalist Vanessa Bartholomew is portrayed by Kirstie Alley, then of Look Who's Talking fame; real-life local television anchors Randy Meier and Lauren Green also appear.
"Before Prince was in love with me, he was in love with the idea that we'd known each other in previous lifetimes," Mayte explained in her 2017 book The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince. "He loved that I was completely open to the idea and willing to spend hours with him, imagining in rich detail the joys and heartbreaks, the births and deaths, and the ultimate meanings of our past lives. One result of all that was 3 Chains o' Gold."
3 Chains o' Gold tells the somewhat scattered tale of a princess of Egypt (played by Mayte) whose father is assassinated by seven men and left with the titular jewelry. The princess sends a video to Prince, requesting help escaping from the men. Upon meeting Mayte's character, our hero is so stricken by her beauty that he promptly falls in love. But alas, he still has some wild oats to sow along the way, and it takes a few more bedroom conquests until he realizes that he actually wants to be with the princess for the rest of time.
The movie's narrative is loosely strung together with videos featuring various songs from the Love Symbol Album. Not every track is included, and some are edited – including the film's theatrical, opera-inspired title song, which only appears as an instrumental at the end.
3 Chains o' Gold was only been made available on VHS and Laserdisc upon its initial release, hitting No. 69 on Billboard's year-end home video sales chart. So, far it hasn't shown up on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming services. However, quite a few of the individual videos from the movie and album are currently available on YouTube, including the funk-laced, horn driven, lead single, "Sexy MF," and "7," which peaked at No. 7, making it the album's most successful single in the U.S.