Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

This is It movie poster - Michael Jackson Tonight I went to see the film made about Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for his ill-fated concerts in London. There was a lot of hype. The film is only going to be in cinemas for two weeks. Which I think is weird, for reasons you’ll find here, but I managed to organise myself and get a ticket and go to the cinema. Which was not even a quarter full at an 8pm screening. I suppose that goes to show that it probably only needed a two week cinema release after all. Such is life.

Anyway, I enjoyed the film. A lot. A tremendous deal in fact. For so many reasons; the staging, the lighting, the pyro effects, the supplementary video footage, the band – MY GOD – the band, the dancing and just the insight into the mastery of a Michael Jackson concert performance.

Everyone on the crew, in the band, and in the dance troupe all looked like they wanted to be there. They were so energetic, so enthusiastic, and their performances were so polished it was out of this world. There was this one girl, Orianthi Panagaris, from Adelade of all bloody places, who was phenomenal. There’s something about her attitude that meant she could be possibly one of the most outstanding musicians on the stage, but at the same time gladly and happily take a back seat to Michael which I just found quite captivating.

Michael’s 50 year old voice, a voice which will sadly never utter another melody, sounded like the records he recorded twenty and thirty years ago. Exceptionally clear, articulate, melodic. He knows all his music inside out (and he should, he wrote it), he knows every key of every song, every note of every arrangement, every dance move. He always breathes in exactly the same places, never falters on pitch, never settles for half; he’d rather not sing a line, then sing one badly.

rehersal01 Oddly, I’m not sure what to make of my affection for this film. If I was being totally honest, I’d say that I could see the fatigue in every movement. The man was obviously working every bone in his fragile little body to put on a show. This was not a documentary movie, it was concert footage. There was no mention at all of his death, but there was plenty of mention of the fans. We have to bear in mind that this film has been edited and produced by the event promoters. The framing approach they’ve taken with this film, the image they’ve chosen to portray, is that of an artist working for his fans. An artist who loves performing, who loves the earth. But the man was clearly tired. You get the impression that he wasn’t afforded all that many breaks. The director was always asking him questions. Michael was working his brain as well as his body.

Jackson LiveWe all know how the story ended, we all know that the promoters are in it to make a buck, and there’s no doubt that if you were a journalist from a business paper and you asked them about it, they’d say they were in it to recoup losses incurred. Some may choose to boycott the film for this reason. I saw it because the man fascinates me. His creativity is fascinating in a way that soars over the heads of contemporary pop stars. He is truly an icon. And the film is worth a look. As I always recommend; try and see it in the cinema if you can. This sort of thing just wouldn’t be the same on the small screen.

Political economy aside, he’s an exceptional performer and he has provided his promoters with footage we can buy in the inevitably fruitless hope that we can begin to understand this dynamic performer.

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