This Is It (2009)
A compilation of interviews, rehearsals, and backstage footage of Michael Jackson as he prepared for his series of sold-out shows in London.
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.
In 2008 Michael Jackson announced a history-making epic comeback that wouldn't be topped for decades to come. Calling the shows "This Is It", he booked 50 back to back dates at London's O2 Arena that sold out in a matter of mere minutes. And he certainly wasn't about to disappoint - pulling in a budget for these shows that would rival most feature films and set about updating his classics from "Smooth Criminal", "The Man In The Mirror", "Human Nature", "Beat It", and of course "Thriller" for the modern era. This movie consists of the rehearsal footage of the full set - with a tight back up band and dancers, and some really amazing video sequences and pyrotechnics - that was to be performed at the O2. However - not even the week before his tragic death of an overdose on June 25th, 2009, the band, the crew, and Michael himself were a week away from going to London to pull off the epic comeback. Instead the footage that exists from the rehearsals is only a sad reminder of what could have been: This Is It.
- The film opens with a short text introduction stating the purpose of the footage and its intent "For the fans...". After short dialogues from various dancers, Kenny Ortega is heard talking through the original concert opening sequence involving a body suit made from screens which display fast clips and images with bright intensity from which Jackson emerges on stage. Immediately after this, Jackson begins "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" first solo, which pauses half-way through and a small snippet of Jackson singing his song "Speechless" acapella is shown. Jackson is then joined by dancers and completes the first number. A short clip showing rehearsals of the "toaster" mechanism is shown before rehearsal footage of "Jam" is played. This plays directly into the green screen adaption of soldiers dancers for "Bad" which are also used for "They Don't Really Care About Us" which is shown next. From here, the film shows Michael directing Ortega and his band for his solo rehearsal performance of "Human Nature" which he performs acapella, then acoustic and finally with full band. Green screen rehearsals for the video vignette for "Smooth Criminal" come next, with dress rehearsals of the song following, including parts of the vignette intertwined with the dancing. Jackson is seen next directing his musical team for the cues in his song "The Way You Make Me Feel." Jackson then performs a rehearsal with dancers which he alters and changes as he goes. A small animatic introducing the Jackson 5 is shown afterwards, and Michael then rehearses "I Want You Back", "The Love You Save", "I'll Be There" and "Shake Your Body." Jackson stops only to report problems with his earpiece. After this, Jackson sings with one of his back up singers on his duet song "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" in which he sings at full strength, directing his partner as he goes. The filming for the "Thriller" vignette is then shown with Jackson and Ortega watching with 3D glasses. Jackson is then seen rehearsing "Thriller" with the vignette intertwined like that in "Smooth Criminal." During the dance sequence, puppets are suspended in the audience aisles while Jackson emerges from a robotic spider originally seen in the vignette. Jackson and Ortega rehearsing the cherry-picker is seen next, along with Jackson rehearsing "Beat It." Jackson creates the ending he wants for the song, a long drum build up in which he tears off his jacket and burns it. Footage of the show's aerialists rehearsing to the instrumental of "Who Is It" is shown next, followed by the Jackson and his band rehearsing "Black or White," in which he allows guitarist Orianthi Panagaris to take center stage to finish with a high guitar rift. The video-sequence for "Earth Song" is shown next, featuring a small girl who wanders through an abundant forest, falls asleep, and wakes up to find the forest destroyed by man. Jackson then performs the song both onstage and using the cherry-picker, with his voice being heard at the end telling of the dangers of Global Warming and the lack of reversible time left. Afterwards, Michael is seen conversing with Ortega, his dancers and band about the shows, trivial dance moves and his hopes for the concert series. He then performs a quick version of his song "Billie Jean" featuring an extra dance sequence. Michael is then seen talking to all crew members and wishing everyone the best for the London performances. At a sound check, Jackson performs "Man In The Mirror" with strong backing vocals. The film ends with Jackson with his arms extended on stage with the message: "Michael Jackson King of Pop Love Lives Forever