Sunday, November 01, 2009

Michael Jackson: This Is It

Michael Jackson: This Is It

When I saw the billboards I wondered how there could be a film out starring Michael Jackson if he was dead. I wasn’t quite sure if the billboards were advertising a film or a product. Anyway, I hadn’t a clue what it was about, but on October 31 after visiting my nephew in the hospital and then wondering what to do for the remainder of the evening—going home not an attractive option, his mother and I decided to check the local listings and see if the film was playing nearby and it was.

We bought our tickets and popcorn—ice cream gone, so my sister-in-law settled for a hot dog. We got some water and went in.

What a wonderful film! It is about the rehearsals the week before the tour—Michael’s last tour. Dancers who hoped for a part in the company were interviewed along with the production crew, musicians, choreographers, set designers and costumers—but the major aspect of the film which makes it extra special was Michael himself and the opportunity to see him in action—literally as he rehearsed his songs with the band…danced with his team…talked about what he was aiming for compositionally on a number…make a mistake and not lose his cool.

His appreciativeness of the entire team whom he referred to as family. Watching him get carried away and sing out when he hadn’t planned to. His difficulty hearing. Seeing the care his creative team had for him—telling him to hold on when lifted, making sure there was a flashlight given to him on stage in a scene when the lights went out. The numerous takes on a piece until the band has it right.

Then juxtaposed or shot over or shown on a split screen was Michael performing the song we were listening to in concert at another time—he wanted to give the people what they were used to...if not something better.

He spoke about why he wrote certain songs…and the seamlessness of the segments was visible only by Michael’s wardrobe. Throughout the rehearsals Michael would say, "God bless you," often.

The rehearsals were shot over a week and we watched Michael sitting with his team and how pleased he was with how the concert was shaping up. It was going to be something to remember.

The film gave me closure around Michael’s passing. I missed the funeral...and then decided not to watch it. I kept hoping he wasn't really dead. I was sad that he wasn’t able to do the tour and wondered why he hadn’t ever shared with his audience his artistic process…

The film is about love...the love a man had for his craft and what a gift he had and what a gift he was. Dancers spoke about his inspiration and as I watched the film and listened to Michael sing my favorite songs I was inspired to live each moment as if it were my last because it just might be.

I think about Dr. Robert Scott, how he died so suddenly last month, Diane Howell and Ave Montegue--earlier this year.

Michael speaks of love when addressing his team...and this film was a gift he left for us, those who love him in return. It's a rehearsal and like all rehearsals the point is the process...that one should not get stuck in the details because the rehearsal is not about perfection, it's about understanding the bigger picture.

Each time I thought the film was over after the credits rolled and after frames replayed certain scenes. I think there must have been five false stops. Reminded me of Spike Lee. You never know when it’s over until the screen goes black—this was the same experience.

I highly recommend This Is It
and its soundtrack.

Photo taken from Kiran Pahwa 09/06/2008


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