After seeing Michael Jackson's This Is It for the second time in four days, I can say that it is a little easier to accept his death. It is still incredibly sad. But watching him on the screen with this backstage documentary of what was to be his farewell tour, I felt uplifted and I got a sense that he was in a different place than he had been a few years ago when he was going through his trials and tribulations. It seems that he had come full circle and reached a point in his life where he was at peace with himself.
He was poised for a comeback and this tour would have been spectacular. It included his greatest hits and a few new songs with contemporary themes such as saving the planet. Jackson seems to be in his element throughout this project whether it is rehearsing onstage or working with the musicians, singers, and dancers behind the scenes. He knew every nuance and detail of the show and his directions served as an inspiration to the entire cast.
Some of the most intimate moments of the movie are when Jackson mentors outstanding guitarist Orianthi Panagaris, telling her "this is your moment to shine" and when he shares a spontaneous duet of "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" with Judith Hill. You can almost feel the excitement and pure joy of being coached by the King of Pop.
What struck me was the vitality and sense of abandonment he projected. He was like the MJ of old, mesmerizing with his dance moves and sweetly serenading with his vocals, even though he said he was conserving his voice. I can only imagine how he would have soared on the tour.
This movie should put to rest any of the tabloid fodderabout Michael losing his voice or being a skeleton right before he died. I was amazed at how smoothly and elegantly he danced onstage. He certainly did not look, sound or move like a 50-year-old. Indeed, the autopsy reports had confirmed that he was in good health overall, making his passing all the more painful for his many fans.
MJ, appearing a bit psychic, stated that this tour would be his "final curtain call" at the press conference near the beginning of the film. His demeanor then was upbeat and triumphant which indicates to me that he was fired up and ready to go on this, his last adventure.
The constant admiration shown to MJ by his fellow artists throughout the documentary highlight the contributions he has made to the music world. In fact, after my first screening of the film as I was driving home listening to the radio I was amazed by how many of today's pop and rap artists show an influence of Michael Jackson. MJ's music will never go out of style. Even the Jackson 5 tunes felt contemporary when recreated in the film.
One of the most moving parts of the movie for me was near the end when the cast and director, Kenny Ortega got in a circle interlocking arms and Michael declared they were a family, that they should do their best and not be nervous and look at it as a big adventure. He then said it was about love, loving the earth and that he loved everyone there. That was when I realized that MJ had reached a deep place in his journey.
In June I had written an article in the Huffington Post stating that Michael did not love himself because of his constant quest to change his appearance and his blocking out of those who loved him. I was basing this on interviews he gave about four years ago. After having seen this film I must revise my thinking on that.
When he rehearsed certain songs alone while his dancers became his audience, his performances were received with thunderous applause and cheering. MJ's reaction was to humbly say "God bless you." He seemed to be able to take in the admiration and appreciation and beam it back to them. The love was palpable.
I am grateful that we have this documentary as the final legacy of one of the greatest entertainers of the century. With this film, it almost seems that Michael never left us. In a way, he never has, as his music will always be with us and his influence will continue to inspire generations to come. God bless you, Michael.