I went to the premiere of MJ’s This Is It with child like eagerness. This was really it. His last days on the planet were spent practising for his final world tour, one that he had no idea he wouldn’t be on. The elation and the glory behind all of it reeked through the screen with a strange, sad, and strong undercurrent of finality. 50 sold-out concerts were cancelled. Cause: death by drug-related cardiac arrest. What fucked up fate.
Irrespective of the controversies that cocooned MJ over the last few years, there is no doubt that his effect on people was unique and overwhelming. The man was pure passion, talent, energy and understated (perhaps even undermined?) genius.
The film glorifies MJ in his most natural state of being: pre-concert rehearsals. That time when you function with pure excitement as you put everything into prep for a performance that promises to take you and your audience to a land never been to before. The film does well to give us genuine and unmanipulated glimpses of the man the world loved but never really understood completely.
Physically, however, he appeared a mess; a blaring fact in the film that I suppose just could not be hidden; it was sad to see him physically ruptured and strangely skeletal. But, you overlook it as a minor flaw in his otherwise phenomenal element of being. He was not a normal person, not physically, nor mentally — something that seeps through the entire film; but then which world famous legend was?
Other than MJ’s musical talent, the film sheds light on what MJ was like to work with and his relationship with crew, musicians, and dancers. The movie is filled with genuine sound-bites and anecdotes from them, on and off set. You’ll notice an interesting chemistry between MJ and his gang: formal yet warm and loving, fun yet peaceful, thrilled yet patient, determined and disciplined, yet having the time of their lives. I can’t imagine how traumatic MJ’s death must have been for those people.
What is also amazing to see in the film is what goes into putting together a massive, mind-blowing concert: the sets, the lights, the outfits, and the mechanisms involved in making every second on stage special.
One of the key differentiators of MJ was that he has always told a story through his music. He never just sang. He invented, he created, he dared to imagine insanely — and then he took you there to experience it all with him. That’s what made him stand out from the rest and that’s what would have made MJ’s final world tour unforgettable.
The film cleverly tells a story that is insightful an interesting. It also weaves in beautifully rehearsal performances to almost everyone of MJ’s blockbuster hits — you’ll often find yourself tapping your feet and lip-syncing to the songs. The man’s energy, passion and genius exudes throughout the film.
After watching the film, I felt like I had been part of his prep to give the final concert of his life, and that I got a peek into otherwise unchartered territory. I think the film aimed to re-capture and portray all the aspects of MJ that made him magnificent, and it succeeded. A must watch for anybody who can sing along to one or more of his songs.
Here’s his latest track in case you haven’t heard it already: This is it. Beautiful.