Holly and I went to see the Michael Jackson movie last night for a glimpse of the singers ill-fated farewell concert. I have to say we were both very impressed.
The movie very much plays out in concert order showing us what would have happened and then cutting to the rehearsals that took place between April and June 25th. Without a doubt it would have been one of the most spectactular live shows ever combining new 3D thriller sequences, CGI sequences, Giant robots and all that crazy stuff. Couple this with truly mesmerising dance choreography and it would have been a stunning sight.
I guess the thing that no one knew when these shows were announced was whether Jackson himself could still a) dance and b) sing. As I experienced at the recent U2 concert, aging rockers inevitably can't hit the high notes from past glories (Bono was so bad he was quite funny).
With Jackson however, I was quite captivated. His voice (without the aid of mixing) was still impressive. To hear him singing 40 year old songs from the Jackson 5 catologue with only a small change in pitch was quite touching. As for the dance routines, he may have looked thinner than before and his hands may have been guant, but from the moment he stepped out for Don't Stop Till You Get Enough those feet were mesmerising.
Of course the one thing the movie ignores is Jacksons health during the rehearsals. Careful editing ensure that we will never know how hard it was for him to complete the kind of dance moves that people 20 or 30 years his junior would struggle with. Does he look tired during the rehearsals? Yes, but no more than any of the other dancers who are, naturally, in their prime.
The great tragedy of this film is that we are beginning to get of picture of how Jackson was able to make it through these non-stop rehearsals. Continuous relief from pain medications which had a sole purpose; that of keeping him on his feet long enough to complete the tour. Of course, this leads us to question not only Jackson himself, but the doctors, advisors and close friends around him.
While the movie masks over any suggestion that he may have been unwell, it is a question that some people will ask themselves for years. "Should I have done something to pull the plug on all this?"
Regardless, the movie is a showcase of a truly incredible talent. A man who took an interest in every aspect of his shows and was a consumate perfectionist. If you aren't a fan of Michael Jacksons most famous work then this movie offers very little, but for those who grew up loving Thriller, Man in the Mirror, Billie Jean et al it forms a fitting tribute and offers a rare, albeit fleeting, glimpse of one of the Worlds most legendary performers.