Michael Jackson’s This is It…A Farewell

Michael Jackson's This is It!If you walk out of the theater thinking what you just watched is the world’s longest music video, then you just don’t get it.  For those of us who have had any kind of connection to Michael Jackson over the past four decades, you will appreciate this film and revel in its sights, sounds and emotion.  When I was just a kid growing up in Highland, Indiana, my first exposure to Michael Jackson as I remember it was the ‘Billie Jean’ video.  I sat there in amazement while every block of sidewalk lit up.  He was just like King Midas to me.  Every song he touched turned to gold and apparently every piece of pavement he touched would glow.  Ah, but that was before I could truly appreciate music.  Then ‘Thriller’ came out and to this day it is the number one, baddest ass music video of all time.  There are those that disagree with this statement but only because they’re wrong.  Hey, nobody’s perfect. 

Fast forward the entertainer’s life to years of living in reclusive obscurity, marred by financial difficulties and questionable legal claims.  Through and through, Jackson’s fans stood by in hopes that the King of Pop (sorry Kanye, you’ll never have a shot at this title) would some day return to the stage for one last hurrah.  This Is It was to be that final farewell, but never in the tragic turn of events that led to this movie.  You see, there is one very important item to note about this film; it was never intended to be released to the public.  The footage you will watch in this movie was to be for Michael’s own private collection.  Thank God the cameras were rolling.  Not only is the rehearsal footage the only remnants we can ever witness of the concerts that never were, but these were some of Michael Jackson’s last days on earth. 

At 50 years old, the dude still had it.  His voice didn’t sound aged.  ‘Billie Jean’ still sounded like it did on the album and ‘Bad’ still sounded as ‘bad’ as ever.  His body remained as limber as a teenager’s (thanks to trainer Lou Ferrigno) and he still had those moves and that wicked footwork.  As a dancer myself, I have certainly gained a fair bit of experience performing over time.  But when I watched Michael on the big screen tonight, I just sat there in awe.  This guy was on a completely different plain of dance than the rest of us.  In the film, he makes it look so effortless.  To say I can appreciate his talent is the understatement of the year. 

This Is It, which was also to be the name of the tour, features an hour and fifty-one minutes of rehearsal footage and backstage planning.  There is no narration.  It’s raw coverage of Jackson and company singing, dancing, working out kinks in the music and just plain old getting ready for the show.  Never have I found myself moving to the beat of music in a movie theater, unable to keep my feet still, until tonight…and I wasn’t the only one.  I looked around at one point and saw a handful of stadium theater seat-backs bouncing back and forth to the groove of the music that filled our ears as we drank the lyrics and let the rhythm shake hands with our souls. 

Michael Jackson had become such a troubled man, as portrayed through the eyes of the media, but for two hours tonight, I was taken back to a time growing up, not all that far from Michael’s place of origin, watching from that living room in Indiana when music made its first significant impressions on me.  If you have any desire of revisiting the old days with Michael Jackson, or if those days never left you, all I can say is the price of admission will be money well spent on experiencing This Is It.

Godspeed, Michael.


*In July of this year, I had the luxury of interviewing actor/body-builder Lou Ferrigno, who served as trainer to Michael for the This Is It tour.  During our conversation, Mr. Ferrigno briefly touched on the topic of his co-worker and friend, Michael Jackson.  You can read that interview in its entirety here: http://whysoblu.com/?p=1771 




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