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The documentary show bits from various stages of the “This is It” farewell shows Michael Jackson was rehearsing for when dying in 2009. Added are some clips from the video clip material shot for the show, such as a new video for the “Thriller” performance.
Firstly, it needs to be said that there is no coherence in the material. Apparently, it was not planned to prepare a substantial “making of”, so there is very little interesting backstage material, there is little emotion or human interaction. The most interesting bit about the film is the way Kenny Ortega (who, I guess, has had many years’ experience with Jackson) carefully tread the minefield of interaction with the “King of Pop”. Careful suggestions, wrapped in simple sentences, like a jester at the court. You would hear the same form of communication at the court of the Emperor Nero, I guess, where all bearers of unpleasant news, and everybody showing his head at the wrong time or happens to have the misfortune of existing while the dictator is in the wrong mood, will be thrown into the lions’ den without hesitation. You cannot see any of this behaviour from Jackson on screen, but it is reflected on how the staff hired for this adventure behaves around him. It is clear that the great economic (and probably also artistic) opportunity that these London shows present to everybody involved could be shattered at the slightest whim of the man in charge.
That man has a hard time expressing what he feels (“it is like a big fist jamming down my ears” – “do you mean we should turn down the volume?” – “yes, turn it down”) and altogether oozes a weird mixture of utter fragility, sickness and stunningly casual control over the moves required by the choreography. Not by any means the monumental artist he was built up to be and maybe was, rather a broken and crazy ex-star who still goes through the motions of the past, because nobody has told him that the world has moved on (see “Sunset Boulevard”…).

This Is It (2009).

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