If you can, put aside all the craziness. Put aside all the accusations. Put aside the ever-morphing face and figure. Put all that aside, and concentrate on the remarkable talent that oozed from every pore of Michael Jackson. If you can do that, you will be truly touched by This Is It.
Most people can agree that Jackson was an artistic innovator who changed the sound of music and the look of dance. He was also highly involved in every part of what was supposed to be his farewell tour. He was in on the auditions for principal dancers. He attended the filming of background footage. He worked with the music director. He made notes on lighting and choreography. Kenny Ortega may have been the director, but Jackson was in charge, and everybody knew it.
It's important to remember that This Is It is comprised solely of footage shot during rehearsals. Consequently, there are many times when Jackson, trying to conserve his voice, is not singing full out or even singing all the words. There are also moments when he's simply blocking his dance moves, although keeping himself from moving to the music seems nearly impossible. Jackson is almost always in constant motion. What's amazing is that most performers would give up a body part to be able to sing and dance as well as Jackson's less-than-best.
This Is It shows us Jackson the artistic technician, who when explaining why a pause is needed during a song, says, "Let it simmer. Bathe it in moonlight." He also speaks about love a lot. As in when he's trying to work through a problem with the in-ear monitors. He says he'll figure it out "in love."
It's obvious that This Is It would have a been a concert that actually lived up to its hype. New video backgrounds where made for several songs. In Smooth Criminal, Jackson shares black and white screen time with Rita Hayworth and Humphrey Bogart, among others. In Thriller, a fabulous new graveyard scene was shot. Both of these numbers were stand outs.
Besides the dazzling brilliance, there's also a bit of sadness in This Is It. I found myself hurting for all the talented dancers, singers, and musicians, many of whom said it was their dream to work with Michael. What a blow to put so much of yourself into a project only to have it tragically end before it could really begin.
And in the end, maybe that's the tragedy of Michael Jackson's life. Working from the time he was a child, navigating the treacherous maze of meteoric fame without a strong, grounding influence to guide him, Jackson seemed to spend his whole life looking for love. In This Is It, there are times when he smiles, and Jackson-the-Man and Jackson-the-Artist become one. On the stage, he loved what he was doing, and he loved the joy he brought to his fans.
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