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The greatest concert the World will never see
on 10 November 2009
I went to the cinema with genuine discomfort at the motivations for releasing this film. Would it be yet another exploitation of Jackson's legacy? Another shot at raking in money from his name? Could rehearsal footage be of any interest? Did I really want to see a skeletal drug-addict shamble around? But my children really wanted to see the film, and I had promised them a treat following their exams so I was beholden to taking them. I was not looking forward to seeing "This Is It" and I am not a nutty fan.
In short, Kenny Ortega has produced a staggering film. Admittedly, there is some sycophancy from some of the dancers (only in the opening sequence) and Jackson is not giving a full-on stage performance (remember - it's a rehearsal!), but... Wow! Even when operating at 70%, Jackson's stagecraft, voice and dancing are miles ahead of anyone performing today. This 50 year old man shows everyone how it should be done.
"This Is It" cannot be pigeon-holed. It is not a movie. It is not a concert. It is not a documentary. The footage was shot for Jackson's personal collection. However, Ortega has compiled a compelling and amazing film.
The sheer scale of the concerts, the preparation required, the rigs, the video sequences... this would have been the greatest comeback in the history of pop. I know I sound like Elizabeth Taylor here, but I am pretty critical. If you see my other reviews, I don't dole out 5 stars willy-nilly.
For all the negativity I have read about this film, I cannot agree that Jackson looked weak. He was certainly thin, but he was more than able to perform the moves. He was saving his voice, so didn't belt out every song, but that's the norm for rehearsals - and even with so much in reserve, he sounds incredible. Of course, Ortega might have edited it favourably for Jackson's posterity, but this is no bad thing for the viewer. There is no mawkish focus on watching Jackson wither. If Sony and AEG are cynically exploiting Jackson's memory, it doesn't feel like it on watching the film. I would urge you not to deny yourself the opportunity to see this film because of the bad press it has received from some (I would say, uninformed) corners. If you were ever a fan of Jackson's music, you are in for a treat with this film.
"This Is It" is without doubt one of the very best cinematic experiences I have ever had.
The World was denied a once in a generation event. Having seen this film, I have no doubt that had Jackson lived to perform the concerts, his reputation as the greatest entertainer of his generation, and perhaps all-time, would have been secured.