"This Is It" came out today, so naturally I picked up my copy right away. I just finished watching.
The film is a documentary of MJ's 4 month rehearsal period just before he died on June 25 of last year. The film puts together rehearsal footage attempting to give an idea of what the London concert would have looked like completed. Footage of Michael practicing all his major songs and dance moves are included.
Obviously Michael Jackson was a complex and tragic figure. Many artistic geniuses seem to be tortured souls. I have written about this aspect of Jackson's personage before.
When viewed solely with a focus on his talent and genius, he truly was unparalleled- a "king" of sorts. In addition to the constant barrage of amazing dance moves and tricky vocals, two features struck me as I watched the film-
1. Jackson could still dance and move at an incredible level for someone who was 50 years old. Despite all the footage being from rehearsal, he seemed to out dance professionals half his age. It truly is an amazing thing to behold. Still, you get a sense he was holding back a bit, being practice and all.
2. Jackson was incredibly involved in the overall creative process. The show was going to be the most complex in history. A combination of dozens of dancers, special effects, 3-D interactive movie footage throughout, and all sorts of crazy life-sized props rolling on stage, also making this the most expensive stage show ever produced. Yet, as rehearsal unfolded, amidst the seeming chaos and commotion, there was Jackson tweaking and coaching the dancers, musicians, and sound technicians with exacting detail.
My favorite part of the film was the footage of Michael Jackson practicing "Billie Jean". There's a portion of that song where he breaks out in to a dance solo. He has provided many epic performances of this dance sequence since it's release in 1982, but none in the last 13 years. So here is MJ at age 50 dancing to Billie Jean like it was he was still trying to perfect it. Empty stadium, practice stage, just him and the drummer for the solo spot in the song as he danced. It wasn't the best Billie Jean dance sequence I've seen him do-keeping in mind it was just practice- but when he finished his small audience made up of back-up dancers erupted with applause and didn't stop. He seemed genuinely embarrassed and even a bit confused as to why they thought his practicing was so standing ovation worthy. Only fans from way back will understand what an amazing part of the film this short sequence is. It dawned on me afresh- the guy really didn't understand how good he was.
Simply put, God just gives select people something He doesn't give everyone else. I don't know what it would have been like to be in a private audience while Mozart played or Michelangelo painted, but witnessing Michael Jackson dance a few days before he died has to be on par. To say Jackson was a rare talent seems too trite.
As a Christian I am ultra conflicted when I consider a figure like Michael Jackson. While I would not presume to know the content of the man's faith, most signs pointed starkly to a spiritually confused and personally mis-directed person. There was no explicit fruit of a saving relationship with Christ manifested in his life that I have been able to discern which grieves me greatly. Nevertheless, the talent he possessed was not derived from himself or his DNA. Michael Jackson's ability was a gift from God. Misused talent? At times, for sure. Thus is the dilemma of human fallenness. Still, even in one who appears to be unregenerate and lost, the glorious creative imprint of God could be seen in the moves he improvised and the vocals he mustered.
I do not find it hard when viewing the unique talents and rare abilities of people like Jackson, Presley, Hendrix, Jordan, Gretzky, Woods, etc., to give praise to God, and really, God alone.