Michael Jackson film reveals soft side of performer

Already a box office hit, This Is It displays a lesser seen side of the King of Pop.

Already a box office hit, This Is It displays a lesser seen side of the King of Pop.

This Is It, produced and directed by Kenny Ortega, comprises an hour and fifty-one minutes of rehearsal time and other behind-the scene footage from April 2009 through June 2009 in the late Michael Jackson’s life. Eight days before the start of his 50 sold-out shows at London’s O2 Arena, Jackson died June 25, 2009, at age 50.this is it

Opening in 3,481 theaters worldwide, the film grossed $101 million in its first five days, according to the Associated Press, with United States box office estimates totaling more than $34 million.

The film may be behind-the-scenes footage of the show, but what it seems to reveal is a side of Michael Jackson’s personality rarely seen by mass audiences.

The film also points out at times what makes Michael Jackson a fashion icon, with sharp-shouldered blazers and sequined gold pants – two of Jackson’s signatures – are popping up this fall in magazines like Teen Vogue. Customized outfits for Jackson with special effects, such as lights, were also in development.

Aside from footage of Jackson, the film featured four singers, guitarists, drummers and dancers. A million dancers auditioned, the film said, but only 11 male back-up dancers were chosen. The footage showed them learning and practicing choreography and participating in yoga and Pilates classes.

Ortega revealed that Jackson wanted This Is It to be a show of fans’ favorites. An online contest offered fans the chance to vote on which songs they wanted to see in the show.

Fireworks erupt on stage, Michael Jackson appears and begins to sing: “I said, you wanna be startin’ something. You got to be startin’ something…”

After the opening, moviegoers become audience members in Jackson’s final performance, getting a look at everything from fire streaming across the stage for “Beat It” to crisp choreography in tune with every beat of “Jam.”

But the show doesn’t stop with stunning pyrotechnics or sharp dance moves. Before “Smooth Criminal,” the producer shoots a scene in which Jackson arrives in the middle of a mugging. After editing, the film was transformed into an old-fashioned black and white show. Jackson enters the stage, singing, “You’ve been hit by, you’ve been struck by a smooth criminal,” and the piece ends with Jackson jumping through a window in the short video.

For “They Don’t Care About Us,” green screen turns 11 male dancers into one million, wearing black G.I. Joe outfits and dancing as soldiers.

Near the end of the show, Jackson gives an emotional performance of “Human Nature.” The short film shows a young girl exploring a beautiful nature scene. Throughout the performance, nature scenes are destroyed and by the end of the song, there’s just one plant left in the forest. The lonely girl spots it and is nearly crushed by the tractor. On stage, a 3-D tractor opens, and out comes Jackson.

Diana Cooper can be reached at diana.cooper@temple.edu.


  1. Jackson is irreplaceable. “This Is It” is terrific and provides some insight into Michael’s passionate intensity in preparing himself, his dancers, and supporting crew to give a once-in-a-lifetime performance. I’m thankful that we can still see many videos of his past performances and life on YouTube.

  2. By the way, the song near the end was Earth Song not Human Nature (that was nearer the beginning).

    This film is so good it makes me think with awe what the concerts would have been. That was going to be the show to end all shows. He didn’t seem ill or near death. Quite the opposite, he was strong and singing out and, at times, getting carried away with it (I Just Can’t Stop Loving You he told Kenny and himself off for getting caught up in it all and not perserving his voice lol).

    I know MJ didn’t like rehearsal footage being seen (there has always been a lot of his tours rehearsal footage on the net) because he wasn’t going full out and giving 100%. But, I bet many acts and performers would love to be as good as a rehearsing MJ, let alone the MJ we get on the night. This stuff he could do in his sleep. He didnt need to rehearse but boy even that was wonderful.

  3. I saw “This is It” four times in the Theater and have already pre-ordered the DVD. Michael was awesome in the movie and I was awestruck the way he presented himself to the young performers. As he said; they were on “an adventure” and unfortunately it was cut short. I will miss him.

  4. I saw thge movie “This Is It” and enjoyed it very much. His passion, kindness, unselfish giving. Michael and I were born on the same day
    and my one regret is that I never met him. He is truly irreplaceable.

  5. Micahel Jackson would be the best pop idol of the centruy. Michael did a lot of stuffs in the music industry’:`

  6. You could certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

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