Michael Jackson’s swansong: ‘This is It’ (2009)


Last night I got to see ‘This is It’, the film of rehearsals for Michael Jackson’s abandoned O2 Arena stage spectacular. The film was interesting but went on for too long and lacked much of a narrative. Jackson came on as a kind of body-popping android / phantom of the opera figure who spoke in such a whimper that he frequently needed to be subtitled. At 50, he struck me as the kind of oldest adolescent on the block. ‘This is It’ was all about the show and not much about its creator. The film reminded me of how he sat so much at odds with the rest of his life, but how he used his perfectionism to transmute that angst – and various pop culture genres – into some fine music.

The somber starting and somewhat contrived first interviews seemed odd, and general lack of audience was strange, but there was also something glorious about seeing it all so half finished. I think the ‘Thriller’ segment began to show what might have been and it was nice to see a great female guitarist in action too. For me, though, while the film had its moments, it was neither a great insight into the man nor the best summation of his gifts.