Basically the film documents, via a few HD cameras, a skeleton dress rehearsal for the entire “This is it” show that was planned for London in October 2009. Fifty sell out shows that barely anyone thought MJ was prepared for or could carry off.
There is no question based on the screen images captured here that he, the dancers and technicians were ready. Whether he could have carried 50 shows without collapsing in mental and physical exhaustion, like any normal person, is another matter.
The film is a rare chance to watch a massive concert production being built from the ground up and rehearsed. The technical challenges, the hours of repeating the same steps, moves, light and music cues. Every performer and musician at the top of their game, yet here we have MJ 50 years old, seemingly keeping pace with dancers at least half his age.
It is fascinating to watch his ability to snap straight into a routine from any point, where a break occurred to polish a step or music cue, seemingly without pause. Here is someone who clearly knows exactly the vision he wanted and is prepared to push and cajole everyone involved to that end.
The film shows MJ being respectful and courteous to the technicians, dancers and musicians around him. Whilst judicial editing can show whatever the director wishes, the way everyone acts around the white hot sun of MJ, certainly to this endeavour, appears genuine enough. Certainly he is equally reined in as required by the director of the show and documentary, Kenny Ortega.
The film also allows MJ to highlight his concern about the planet and this perhaps is the most enlightening part of the film. Showing passion but perhaps an almost childlike approach to the issues the world faces, is it any wonder he was crushed by the “big bad world” that exists outside the hermetically sealed atmosphere of a music video.
The film includes parts of the original 3D content that would have been screened at the concert and on the basis of this, and the routines shown, what a show this would have been.
Perhaps the biggest anticipated comeback since JC himself, MJ would have confounded his critics once and for all. Quite simply at his peak there was nothing like him and with the show that had been planned, there possibly never would be again.
Certainly there are elements of sycophancy on display but these come from 20 something year old dancers, who grew up learning and emulating his every move. It is difficult to muster much cynicism when someone openly admits that MJ provided an outlet for their frustration, anger and talent that no one else could.
On the evidence presented here, whilst softly spoken, MJ displays no tics or tells that would indicate the drug use that we have been told existed. Documented reports that a good nights rest only came through drugs so powerful, that they effectively knocked him unconscious for 24 hours.
Perhaps tragedy is the right word, not just for MJ but for all those involved and his world of fans that had to endure (rightly or wrongly) so much “messiness” in later years. Ultimately, he represented a talent just too delicate to live in the real world that we all inhabit.
A sobering film, dripping in pathos, regret and an overwhelming sense of “what could have been”, a fitting testament to the talent MJ possessed and the influence on an industry and fans that he exerted.
This is indeed “it”, perhaps a shining example of what the modern world can do to someone “innocent” yet massively talented. We build them up and knock them down and then cry when they fall.
After all, what does that say about all of us?