The King will live on in film

The King will live on in film


by Karly Cox

If you see one movie this month, make it This Is It, the documentary based on rehearsals for Michael Jackson's comeback concerts.

Jackson was set to perform 50 shows in London starting in July, but died just weeks before the first gig.

Culled from more than 100 hours of rehearsal footage intended for Jackson's private collection, the 111-minute documentary is an almost unique product. It's not quite a movie of a concert, but it's far more than just a journey backstage.

After a short text introduction explaining the purpose of the movie, the audience is plunged into life with one of the world's most impressive performers. Jackson might have been eccentric - or worse - in his private life, but as a performer he was a perfectionist, the consummate professional.

We see him hand-picking 11 dancers out of thousands of hopefuls, directing the musical director, giving suggestions to the lighting designer, explaining his vision precisely to his crew, and doing it all so passionately, with such a child-like delight, it's hard to imagine this is a man who died from heart failure.

That Jackson's fellow performers and crew admire him would be a gross understatement. The singer may appear gaunt at times, but this doesn't prevent his every move and every note from wowing. While his backing dancers are clearly hugely talented, they actually look like they are trying to prove themselves; the 50-year-old Jackson's actions are effortless. When he tells the band he's got to save his voice, he still manages to belt out his songs.

The film reveals many of the technical aspects of what the show would have featured, such as the 'toaster', a device which launches dancers from under the stage several metres into the air, and incredible pyrotechnics. There's a lot of new video, including a new opening for Smooth Criminal which incorporates scenes from the sort of old black and white movies Jackson loved, and a new segment for Thriller.

There are near-complete performances of several of the singer's best known hits. The Way You Make Me Feel shows Jackson as enthusiastic when his long-limbed dance partner steps on stage as in the original video, while I Just Can't Stop Loving You sees him engage in a sing-off with his backing singer as they ad lib the ending.

This Is It is a fitting tribute to one of the world's most prolific talents, managing to honour Jackson without being overly self-congratulatory or sentimental. The King of Pop may never sing again, but this movie reminds us that he reigned for a reason.

Watch the trailer here



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