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Music DVD Review: Michael Jackson’s Vision

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Michael Jackson’s Vision collects forty-two music videos, spread out over three DVDs. This isn’t the first time Jackson’s videos have been anthologized, but it is the most complete. Even casual fans will likely be very entertained by the vast array of short films, ten of which are making their DVD debut. The presentation is surprisingly no-frills, with wildly varying visual quality and only one audio option (PCM stereo).

The first two discs contain the bulk of the short films, arranged chronologically, with a very simple menu. There is a choice of viewing all uninterrupted, a random mix, or choosing individual songs from another menu. Disc one has sixteen shorts, including most of Jackson’s most iconic classics, totaling one hour and fifty-two minutes. We see the progression from the earliest promo clips for songs from 1979’s Off the Wall to the sophisticated productions of the Thriller and Bad era. The John Landis-directed “Thriller” is featured in its full fourteen minute glory. “Bad,” directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring Wesley Snipes, is included in its complete eighteen minute form.

The ’80s videos have aged the best. There are a few duds, including the over-reaching “Man In the Mirror,” loaded with news footage documenting a wide variety of societal ills. A few straightforward performance clips, “Dirty Diana” and “Another Part of Me,” pale in comparison to the more interesting concepts. Somewhat lesser seen videos will be fun for casual fans who might not be familiar with them. The ten minute “Speed Demon” is a claymation extravaganza, while “Liberian Girl” is so chock full of celebrity cameos they are all credited at the end of the video.

Disc two is even longer, with nineteen videos for a total of two hours and five minutes. Nearly half of them come from the 1991 album Dangerous. The easy highlight is John Landis’ “Black or White,” the full eleven minute version complete with the controversial car and storefront window smashing. Directed by John Singleton, the nine minute “Remember the Time” is still a hoot, with Eddie Murphy, Iman, and Magic Johnson. Not as familiar is David Fincher’s elaborate “Who Is It,” a highly underrated single but a fairly incoherent video. Also a bit more obscure is the sepia-toned “In the Closet.”

The remainder of disc two is dominated by six videos from 1995’s HIStory. While most fans have seen “Scream” (featuring Janet Jackson) and “You Are Not Alone” (featuring Lisa Marie Presley), there are a few forgotten gems from this era. “Stranger In Moscow,” a classic song that became an undeserving flop single, is a moody black & white piece with cool slow-motion effects. The video for the ecology-themed “Earth Song” is as epic as the song itself, featuring striking backwards imagery of nature repairing itself.

In a very unfortunate decision, the terrific thirty-nine minute Michael Jackson’s Ghosts is represented by a four minute edit. The reduced version serves as a video for the Blood On the Dance Floor (1997) song “Ghosts.” The full mini-movie, co-written by Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston, features several songs and tons of impressive visual effects. To my knowledge, the full version has never been officially released on video outside of the United Kingdom. This was a missed opportunity by Sony to finally make it available on a wider basis.

The third disc is considered a bonus. At a mere thirty-five minutes with only seven videos, it’s hard to understand why they didn’t include more material. This would have been a good place for Captain EO, the aforementioned complete Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, or perhaps some interview footage. The seven videos that are included come from different eras. The first three are actually by The Jacksons, including “Can You Feel It.” This 1981 ten minute video bridged the gap between simple performance clips and the later elaborate productions.

“Say Say Say,” with Paul McCartney, is a fun short featuring Jackson and the ex-Beatle as con men. The sole previously unreleased video in the entire collection, “One More Chance,” is a very ho-hum affair. Jackson dances on tables at a nightclub, his back to the camera for the entire four minutes.

Some fans have wondered why there isn’t a Blu-ray release of this collection. The only reason I can come up with is that the vast majority of these videos would look like crap on a high definition format. Most of them unfortunately look pretty bad, apparently transferred from a video master rather than original film elements.

Even the cinematic productions like “Thriller” and “Bad” are disconcertingly mediocre, looking no better than on previous video collections. I guess no one really considered at the time that these short promotional films would be reissued over and over on increasingly unforgiving formats. While the visual quality generally improves as the videos progress from the ’70s to the ’00s, even “Cry” from 2001’s Invincible looks hazy.

Even if this is the very best these videos will ever look, it’s disappointing that a surround sound mix was not created. The 2.0 stereo sounds fine, but it really makes the collection feel like a non-event. Michael Jackson’s Vision contains about four and a half hours of content, retailing for $39.98. It’s nice to have so many videos in one package, but all the material could have comfortably fit on two discs instead of three.

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About The Other Chad

Hi, I'm Chaz Lipp. An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."
  • corlista

    “In a very unfortunate decision, the terrific thirty-nine minute Michael Jackson’s Ghosts is represented by a four minute edit.”

    Totally agree. Ghosts was one of MJ’s absolute best short films – if not the best. Creative, fascinating, brilliant and sorely ignored. Maybe they have plans to bring it out later — for more money.

  • Marcela

    I haven’t bought it yet but I think I will. I would like to have all of Michael’s videos on one collection of DVDs. But it looks like Sony didn’t want to invest any money in it, like in last decade. Since before he released Invincible they were done spending money on him. They just want to make quick buck, they know people will buy it no matter what. Unfortunately I’m one of them.

  • inu-liger

    They completely missed the opportunity (or forgot??) to include the video MJ did with Eddie Murphy, “Whassupwitu”!

  • Cookie

    I believe Ghosts was available on laserdisc in Germany, and VCD in Taiwan. That’s the one video that I want to get and since it’s not here, I ain’t buying it.

  • ultravioletrae

    Sony will make more money if their Jackson projects fail, since the estate’s debt is tied to their 50% share of the Sony/ATV catalog. If the estate defaults on their loan, Sony will gain control of the catalog, which is MUCH MORE PROFITABLE than any album or DVD sales. That is why Sony chose to screw this up, it’s a huge conflict of interest. I have already purchased Vision, glad I did. You can get Ghosts on VCD and download the VCD player on your computer. It is a masterpiece. Don’t let Sony get away with destroying Michael Jackson! Buy the product, beg for more releases until the estate has cleared their debt!

  • Tom

    I can’t believe they left off Ghosts that was one I was looking forward to. However, I will buy it.

  • sc341

    Since I already own most of the videos on the History 1 & 2 DVD and Dangerous, the short films I am loathe to spend more money on what is basically contained in the 3rd DVD disc. What Sony is doing to MJ is reprehensible. I might buy it for a gift for someone for Christmas though.

    I don’t understand why they would not release the full Ghost video on DVD, are they retarded or something?

    Or are they hoping he defaults on his loans so that they can take over the entire catalog? I really wonder about this myself. Someone else posted a similar comment above.

  • ang3l_1011

    I have bought the Dangerous The Short Films DVD, MJ Video Greatest Hits HIStory Vol 1 and 2.. but this one.. its not worth buying… I think.. its a like a duplicate copy of my collection.. minus the other good ones.. Why did they just release the ones not release previously or not widely released.. and hoping that they are the complete versions?

  • intrigued

    I started to buy it but was disapointed it is in 2. stereo. The Dangerous DVD is Dolby Digital. I will probably buy it because I am a fan and the holographic case is unusual, and I do not want to give Sony an opportunity to try and do anymore harm to Michael.

    I really get tired of how the media makes some of his songs sound like he had a mental problem. He was treated terrible by the press during the trials and had a DA that was out to get him for God know what reason and the FBI files have proven he was truly innocent. He had a reason to be distrustful and paranoid of the system.

    He still wrote beautiful songs despite all the distractions. He was a Genius.

    I do hope Sony releases Ghost full version.
    There is a Blu Ray available of Moonwalker.
    I wish they would realease all of his concerts they have films of.

    God Bless Micheal and his family. RIP.

  • Arial

    I bought this dvd recently and am really happy with its content. MJ is a genious and all his videos are combined in this DVD. I woul give it 5/5 stars.MJ lives on peoples heart for ever. This dvd is a must for all fans !!!

  • intrigued

    I got the set for Christmas. I was very happy with it despite my previous concerns. Thriller looked much better and color resolution was good. This is a excellant set especially if you do not have any of the previous DVD’s. I really like the 18 holographic imagaines on the cover. It is worth the money.

    Note to Sony: Please put out the whole video Ghost on DVD. It is such a good Short Film with the 3 songs on it.

    Micheal was such a genius and talented artist.

  • Alyssa Joy


    where can i get it here in the Philippines? I really want it!

    ? MJ so much 🙂