I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when the King of Pop passed away last summer. It was certainly a very sad day in the history of music. No matter what you thought of Michael Jackson, his talent and his love of his art was always something to be appreciated and he was at the pinnacle of his career in my teen years when music and MTV became a part of my life. As with so many of the musicians and bands of the 80’s, Michael was a huge influence on my early youth and I must have listened to “Thriller” a few hundred thousand times and watched the videos that accompanied the songs a few hundred times each.
So it was with many memories that I sat down to watch “This Is It”. What director Kenny Ortega has done here is take parts of video that was being shot as Michael prepped for his 50-show Wembley extravaganza and turned it into a memorial piece for an amazing artist. The video was being shot as Jackson and his band & dancers prepped, sang and danced. There are interviews with the singers, dancers & producers. There is a lot of footage of Jackson onstage, barely singing and dancing, finding the rhythms and patterns in the songs, searching for the “perfect” way to make the show more spectacular than it already was. To watch a man who is so meticulous prepare is quite a sight. And to watch Michael Jackson, with his soft voice, telling everyone that he loves them BUT…it needs to be better…is kind of interesting. We get to see the other side of what Jackson always hid from us. And that alone makes this worthy of your viewing time.
I won’t say this is the greatest documentary I have ever seen, but it certainly ranks up there as far as the fascination quotient is concerned. And the fact that it was never meant to be a film in the first place certainly gives it a little bit of wiggle room considering how few camera angles there are and how often Ortega bounces from one rehearsal to another. But it made millions in limited release in the theatres and I now wish I had had the time to go see it. I bet it looked spectacular on the big screen! Either way, I still enjoyed it on my HD tv and I would recommend this film to anyone who loved Michael Jackson, loved his music or grew up in the 80’s. It’s so sad that an amazing artist was taken from us so early in his life, but this film manages to capture a little of that magic and teaches us more about the “Man in the Mirror.”
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