In the weeks before his death, Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009) was rehearsing a show, "This Is It," that was to open in July. This film begins with a few of the auditioning dancers speaking to the camera about why they're trying out and what Jackson means to them. Then we plunge into rehearsals at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The film is arranged by musical number with pre-recorded material and footage from Jackson's various rehearsals edited together to take us through what would have been the concert's set list.Written by
In 1983, Paul Anka co-wrote with Michael Jackson the song 'I Never Heard', which was retitled and released in 2009 under the name 'This Is It'. This was not noted in the film credits, although it has been confirmed by Anka on ABC's The View (1997). See more »
This is it. This is it. I love you. I'll be - I'll be performing the songs my fans wanna hear.
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There are two scenes after the closing credits. The first was a clip of Michael rehearsing "Human Nature" a couple of weeks before his death. The other was a video of the little girl who appeared in "Earth Song" holding the earth with the words "Heal The World" above her, followed by Michael's signature, and his final message to his fans: "I love you." See more »
No one has any apology to make about this wonderful documentary, least of all Kenny Ortega. When I heard he intended to take "rehearsal" footage of the "This Is It" tour and market it as a film, I assumed it was an attempt to recoup the investment made in the project. Who could have guessed that this film would stand on its own and also enter the echelons of the "best" documentaries about rock music ever made? No less, Michael Jackson reveals more about himself in this footage than we've ever seen before. It's his premiere moment on film, and I would guess he would not have wanted it shown only because we see—for the first time—Jackson without a mask. I won't attempt to characterize this complicated, insanely talented, person, but basically he's painfully shy. And he excelled at one of the most public vocations there is: performing.
What's interesting about the footage is that it exists at all. But since concerts today use video projection for the large venues where they play, it was natural to include the cameras during the rehearsal period. And it's riveting! Nothing is ever less than compelling in large part due to the level of talent in all quarters. The dancers, the musicians, the back-up singers, sets, costumes it's a parade of the best of the best. While Jackson is the center of all of this, if you don't care for him, there's plenty of other things to look at and enjoy.
Any sadness is brought by the viewer. There's not one nod to Jackson's demise or when it occurs. He looks thin, but even in a rehearsal mode, he's electrifying, and I think that's why the film works. We're not at some huge arena (for which the concert was conceived) with 10,000 screaming fans. And rather than missing that electricity, we get intimate performances of familiar Jackson material. But it's re-imagined and you never know what's coming next.
An alert: there is footage throughout the final credit sequence and after the credits end. And if you can, see it in a DP theater...for the sound alone. An amazing experience!
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