My wife and I recently attended a showing of “Michael Jackson’s This is it”, which is a film put together from footage of his prep and rehearsals for the London shows that never came to pass. As basic a premise as this sounds, seeing the film was truly an insightful experience. Here was the “King of Pop” at his most human and open level, interacting with fellow stage performers, musicians and working staff as though each one was a dear member of his family.
Michael Jackson was always renowned as an intense stage performer, but he was never regarded as an actor. Given that assumption, I believe the cameras capture him at a candid level rarely seen before. His attention to detail about every aspect of this performance is one of genuine caring, and his expectation of work ethic and striving for perfection is done so by his own example.
Not only was he filled with emotion and anticipation about these shows, the interviews with his stage musicians and dancers conveyed a level being simply overjoyed to have the opportunity to work with him. These people shed tears of both awe and admiration over not simply being chosen for the job, but by being so gently directed by him and inspired to reach a level that they had never before achieved.
There was so much rumor and speculation surrounding his death, and if the idea of him performing again after so long was a good one. I think any one of us who is over the age of forty, much less fifty, can attest to a drop in endurance and ability that we once took for granted in our youth. While this film only constitutes two hours of over 150 hours of rehearsal footage shot, the glaring evidence is that the man still has the goods. From his signature dancing style to his wide vocal range, the sights and sounds that garnered him the title “King of Pop” was there for all to see. His stage crew and dancers when not in the current numbers were not off in other locations, they were his mesmerized and cheering audience.
The comparisons between Michael Jackson and Elvis have been made on more than one occasion. They both blossomed early,rocketed to super-stardom and were silenced at a young age. Many degrading things were said about Jackson and his behavior, especially regarding the time he spent with children. After seeing this film it becomes almost impossible to imagine this man ever bringing himself to do anything of harm to a child. There was more of a sense that this was a child in fifty year old body. His exuberance and energy abounded, and his level of acceptance mirrored the innocence a child would display. Always kind, caring and understanding of everyone around him, Michael exuded the kind of universal love that is far too rare in mankind as a whole these days.
Seeing this film not only brings back memories of his glory days (if you remember those) but is also a painful reminder that this stunning talent of a man and father is now gone forever.
The film closes with his performance of “Man in the Mirror”, which is a message that not only this country, but the entire world could use more of.
God Bless You MJ, you shall be sorely missed.
-T. August Green