This is it, here I stand / I’m the light of the world, I feel grand / Got this love, I can feel / And I know, yes for sure, it is real — Michael Jackson, "This Is It"
The tears didn’t come until the very end.
For my friends and me as well as countless fans around the world, This Is It is a bittersweet movie to watch; we were the lucky ones who had scored tickets to what was going to be his last series of live concerts, his greatly anticipated comeback, and many (including myself) were supposed to have gone and come back to London by now to see Michael Jackson in concert.
Instead, we had to make do (sorry, Kenny Ortega) with a movie chronicling the rehearsals for This Is It. It doesn’t really bode well for a fan base still reeling from the shock of his passing, does it?
The pressure of pleasing Michael’s family as well as the fans, on top of living up to Michael Jackson’s renowned professionalism and perfectionism, makes it all the more amazing that Kenny Ortega first chose to rise to the challenge of working with Michael Jackson in the first place on his comeback concert, but also, since his passing, that he chose to organise the memorial as well as produce this movie. For as no memorial could possibly sum up the grief of millions of fans around the world, no movie could possibly share the full extent of the brilliance that was Michael Jackson working on translating his artistic vision into an on-stage reality.
But despite all this, the movie was – what’s the word I used over a hundred times during those 111 minutes? Oh yeah – it was AWESOME.
Through Kenny Ortega’s gift to the fans, Michael Jackson might have pushed another boundary after his passing. Because This Is It is the movie you would want to see of all your favourite artists and bands: the way the show came together; the vision; how it comes together, the various contributors; and the first sketches of the final show. It’s an intriguing, inspiring portrait of an artist at work as he develops the concepts behind his show, brings them to life and rehearses them, slowly coming up with the final product.
Whatever has been said about him, I think it can easily be seen throughout the movie that Michael Jackson had most certainly not lost his artistic Midas touch. There can be no doubt that the concert was going to be amazing. And while some viewers might complain about the lack of polish and glitter, to them I kindly remind that this movie chronicles the development and rehearsal for the show, not the final product. What did you expect, for it to look like the concert we missed out on? Then don’t go see it, for you are only going to be disappointed.
I was slightly worried about two things that almost kept me from seeing this movie.
On the one hand, I wondered from the beginning if this movie was in itself an insult to Michael Jackson’s memory by being a mere cash-grabbing opportunity by a company intent on making the most money possible after losing what could have been its most profitable run of concerts in recent history. For between the 50 sold out concerts, and the massive number of memorabilia items that were most probably going to be sold, AEG Live did lose out on a lot of money. And, in today’s consumerist, capitalist society, nothing is sacred any more if it can make a buck – even the passing of an icon such as Michael Jackson.