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Michael Jackson’s “This Is It”

by K. B. Abele on November 1, 2009

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this is it 2.0

Walking into a packed theatre at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday is a bit like an out-of-body experience. Arriving half an hour early, and still vying for a decent seat, is not something that happens often at a Brooklyn theatre. But that is exactly what happened to me this afternoon.

Michael Jackson’s This is It opened today and people around the world seem to have responded. The limited theatrical release time frame of two weeks was a genius move on the part of producers–probably a direct idea of director Kenny Ortega, the mastermind behind Disney’s mega trilogy High School Musical, gearing off the premise set by the Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds concert film.

The film was not quite a documentary, not quite a concert event on film and not quite as much of a glimpse into Michael Jackson as the marketing announced. What is was, was an experience. It was a moment that Ortega caught on camera and shared with the world. In a way, the film was less about Michael and more about the young creative talents who he hand selected to be part of his This is It tour. The film opens with quick teary-eyed interview spots from the 11 dancers chosen to be the principals for the tour. The dancers are just kids, in their early twenties at best, crying  - prior to Michael’s death – simply due to the overwhelming opportunity to dance on stage with the King of Pop. Perhaps the most touching story was of an Australian who had heard of the tour two days prior to the auditions; he bought a plane ticket that day and out of thousands–landed the gig.

Though not adhering to format, the film highlighted the dancers and their enthusiasm for both the tour and Michael himself. Shots of them cheering and waving their arms from the floor while watching Michael sing “Billie Jean” and “Man in the Mirror” brought a reality of that moment for these kids. The film also introduced us to the vocalists and musicians who were set to go on tour as well. Throughout the film, there were quiet moments where one could only focus on these talented performers who had defeated the odds gaining an opportunity to work with Michael Jackson, whose dreams died along with the man.

Through soft moments of the hours of rehearsal footage, we were offered a glimpse of Michael never before shared with the public. His love of the music, his rooted knowledge in the songs and how in depth he was to ensure each detail of the show and performance was perfect. His gentle demeanor and burts of humor along with a dedication towards preserving the environment, added new pieces to the puzzle that decades of stardom and the media created.

The music was a collection of the hits throughout the years, it was a compilation of some of his greatest hits. It was what Michael promised to give the world for his tour, and he delivered–just not in the ideal format. The film is worth watching in theatres if you can. The experience of watching the performances on a larger-than-life screen is the closest one we’ll be able to get to the original plan of the tour. Though, more so, it is the experience of watching this film with a room packed full of fans–the cheering after each song, the laughter at personal moments–which allows you to share in the reality that was Michael Jackson’s impact on the world.

Overall: 3 stars (out of five)

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben WaughNo Gravatar November 1, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

Ben WaughNo Gravatar November 1, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Nice site.

Antonio MiniñoNo Gravatar November 2, 2009 at 9:42 am

I wasn’t sure what I thought about the release of this documentary. I was leaning more towards the group that thought MJ wouldn’t want rehearsals of him out there, and I was also wondering who was making money out of this.

With all that aside, after reading your post, I like that there was a pretty good amount of focus on the dancers and creative team, just for that I think it was a good project then. I felt for those dancers, getting their big break and then not being able to perform.

Thanks K.B.

DiannaNo Gravatar November 3, 2009 at 10:52 am

Everyone I spoke to said they loved it. That it was such a wonderful thing to see him in his natural element…and how it showed what the genius he was. Of course, I was talking to people my age who all probably had a copy of “Thriller” on vinyl somewhere in their house…and a few others who were younger but still were into his music.

My understanding was that there was this cyclical thing that (depending on the person) people might go through in seeing it (at least, about 85% of the people I spoke to): we loved him as a child and in his “Thriller” times; then he got weird and eccentric and we thought he was a freak; then, with his death – and a movie like this to show the human behind the media mask that so often distorts how one is perceived – he was loved all over again when we realized what we had lost.

What had we lost? A brilliant, creative man who maybe could be truly himself, and free only while he was doing his creative work – and his personal life was a shambles.

I’m sure many of us can relate to this more than we care to admit. I hope to see it, and am delighted it got an extended run due to its overwhelming popularity.

Good review, thank you.

Almeda CamilloNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 2:15 am

I really miss Michael Jackson. He is truly the greatest pop singer of the century. Farewell king of pop..

Kevin MitchellNo Gravatar May 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

there is no doubt that Michael Jackson is the best ever pop music artist of the Centruy*.’

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