Just a few days before his untimely death, Michael Jackson was gearing up to set out on a sold-out 50-concert comeback in London. Following ten years of silence from the misunderstood artist, this final performance was going to be unlike any that the King of Pop had ever done before. But little did he know that his true final performance would come in the behind-the-scenes documentary of the show’s final rehearsals.
“This Is It” is pervaded by an eerie sense of foreboding. When watching the (still, at 50) incredibly nimble Jackson fly across the stage, it’s hard not to think of the autopsy photographs of his ruined body that would surface soon after. Jackson says, on several occasions during rehearsal, that he is saving his voice for the real thing, and it’s sad to think of the performance he might have given had he known it would be his last. And on several occasions, the extremely meticulous Jackson would stop mid-performance, fix whatever issue he had with the band, and say, “This is why we have rehearsal,” with a laugh.
Starring: Michael Jackson
Fans who go to “This Is It,” hoping to hear Jackson’s last words to his fans will come away disappointed. Though the film is a documentary, there are very few interviews with the crew, and there are none with Jackson. The film begins by talking to Jackson’s principal dancers, who are so choked up that it’s hard to believe the footage was shot before Jackson’s death.
The rest of the film is straight rehearsal footage, sometimes shot with poor-quality cameras, which reminds the audience that this was never intended to be released in theaters. Despite the fact that this footage only gives a brief glimpse into what the real performance was going to be like, it’s incredible to watch such a talented performer who still, after all these years, hits his mark every single time, both dancing and singing.
This film won’t win any awards based on its cinematography (the opening and closing credits looked like they were made on iMovie) but the packaging doesn’t matter a whole lot when the content is Michael Jackson. Viewers will take away the message of the film, which Jackson repeated to his crew several times — “It’s all about love.”
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