News

'This Is It' Chronicles Michael Jackson's Ill-Fated Comeback

'This Is It' Chronicles Michael Jackson's Ill-Fated Comeback
'This Is It' Chronicles Michael Jackson's Ill-Fated Comeback

Multimedia

Audio

<!-- IMAGE -->



When music superstar Michael Jackson died suddenly last June, he was preparing a series of concerts to herald his comeback after a decade away from live performances. Some 80 hours of video was shot during the weeks of rehearsals and the creative team working with Jackson has distilled them into a two-hour documentary: a tribute film to the man and his music that opened worldwide October 28 2009. Here's a look at Michael Jackson's This is It.




"Here's the man."

"It's Michael."
"The man is here."

 

There is music …lots of music: some new pieces as well as some fresh takes on the global hits that made Michael Jackson the self-proclaimed 'king of pop.'

The film shows tantalizing bits of what was being prepared using a cast of 70, including musicians, dancers, acrobats and puppeteers, amid an elaborate stage set with giant video screens for pre-recorded 3D segments especially produced for the tour. In a rare glimpse behind the scenes, the rehearsal videos show Jackson working to achieve the kind of polished entertainment fans around the world had come to expect from his shows.

The stage show director was long-time Jackson collaborator Kenny Ortega, who went from dancer and choreographer to a successful career as a film director. So when the producers decided to turn the rehearsal video into a theatrical film, Ortega was the natural choice to direct it; but, still mourning the loss of his friend, he admits his first instinct was to turn down the offer.
 

<!-- IMAGE -->

"I looked at this and I said 'no.' He died and a part of me has collapsed," Ortega says. "I'm shattered. Make a film? No way. But I promised I would look at the footage and offer an opinion as to whether I thought we had enough there to tell a story. When I saw it I realized that it was my responsibility …that the journey wasn't over for me and I had to pull it together real fast because there was no way I was going to let this footage go into the hands of someone who didn't understand what it was (and) where it came from. This was Michael and I and the team that we put together. How could I just turn my back on it?"

"The difficult part was that it was so fresh, so quick after (his death);" notes Ortega, "but that also served us because it was all there. We knew what the story was. We didn't set out to make a movie here, but having just come out of the concert experience with Michael, we knew were his heart was. We knew what the investment was for him. We knew what his purpose for going out at this time of his life was and we knew what his ideas were. That for me was the reason to make the film. So from day one we just focused, we kept Michael in the space with us and we thought about the fans and what the fans would need to take away from this film experience."

"From the time I started working with Michael in '93 as a dancer, he always documented the process. It was a tool for him, a reference tool," says Travis Payne, choreographer for the show's complex dance routines. Payne is a co-producer on the film. He explains that Jackson himself was the reason so much video of the rehearsals was available to them; but Payne is not sure how comfortable the entertainer would be with the rough, unfinished performances in the film.

"I think in the past Michael would not have wanted people to see that entire process because he didn't [allow it] before," Payne says. "But I think that he wanted so much to be great and amazing and perfect, and we would tell him 'you don't have to be perfect. We all love you. We're here to support you. We're your family. You don't have to be perfect. Just give us what you want to give us every day. We'll take that. It's enough. Just be Michael Jackson.' He allowed himself to relax into it a little more."

This Is It does not deal with any of the circumstances surrounding Jackson's death; nor does it go into the widely reported concerns about the grueling hours of rehearsal. Director Ortega says those issues were not relevant to the film.

"What I wanted to do here was to tell the story of what Michael had planned for the fans in the best way that I could with what I had available to me," Ortega says. "That's what I did. It wasn't about leaving things out to protect him, it was about telling a story and I think that when you see the film you realize that I allowed him to be vulnerable. I allowed him to be unguarded. I allowed him to go through a creative process like any person would go through. I think that the surprising and beautiful thing about the film is, in fact, we see Michael in that place where every artist ultimately has to be at the beginning before it is finished."

Michael Jackson's This Is It will be in theaters for only a few weeks, to be followed by DVD with many more hours of rehearsal performances.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs