In March 2009, Michael Jackson confirmed he had signed up for a series of concerts – his first for several years (since 1997). The program was to be ten concerts in London, scheduled to begin in July 2009. He made the announcement at a press conference at the concert venue (The O2 Arena) and said it would be his final tour. To emphasise that message, the catch cry at the media conference was “This is it!” – the concert program was subsequently identified as one of the year’s most important musical events. The announcement met with huge commercial interest and all ten concerts were quickly sold out. A further 40 concerts were then confirmed, which meant Jackson would be performing the 50 shows and be committed on the program until March 2010 – ticket sales broke several records. The program would engage Michael in an arduous physical challenge and his rehearsals for the concerts were intense. This documentary chronicles Michael’s preparation for the concert program, including his collaborations with such high profile people as fashion designer Christian Audigier, choreographer Kenny Ortega and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno. He also works closely with his own musicians, dancers and management team. Three weeks before his first scheduled concert, Michael Jackson died in Los Angeles – he was 50 years old.
This documentary is a compilation of footage taken during interviews, rehearsals and backstage as Michael Jackson prepares for his concerts. The activity is mostly on site at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles and it demonstrates the progress of the concert development through auditions, choreography, musical arrangements, set design and styling. It is structured around the concert’s set list and shows pre-recorded material edited together from the rehearsals to take us through what would have been his entire show. Even if you are not a fan of Michael Jackson, or have other concerns about him, if you watch this movie you will be left in no doubt as to his musical capability and talent. For me, “musical genius” is not an exaggeration – he demonstrates his utter dedication to his music and his breadth and depth of musical and dance ability in these scenes. It is wonderful to watch – such a pleasure. He is a truly unique and enigmatic man. This documentary is made and presented very well, I enjoyed it.
Made in 2009. Directed by Kenny Ortega