I had the chance to see “This is It” in Los Angeles this week. And I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.
It seems like just a little while ago that I was watching news stories of Michael Jackson’s passing and watching videos that he’d made long ago. His death had been sudden and shocking, followed by a remembrance process that was celebrative and winsome. But seeing a new film, with new images, about a man who’s passed away, is very, very confusing on the emotions.
I can’t tell whether this was “Instant Nostalgia” or “Delayed Mourning.” “Blessed are those who mourn,” says the scripture. It also says, “There’s a time to mourn.” Watching “This Is It,” I found myself trying to get emotionally connected to whether that time had come and gone, or was still with us, or was starting anew.
That said, “This Is It” is a celebration of a man in the prime of his desire, though not of his career–someone committed to repainting himself publically according to his gifts, talents and passions rather than the controversy and confusion that had so marked his more recent decade.
As movie stories go, “This Is It” really doesn’t have one. It is documentary-ish, which actually makes it all the more powerful, as the sheer force of Michael Jackson’s presence–and our knowledge of his impending death–provides the dramatic tension, the plot, the conflict, the constant knowledge of the fatal flaw and the denouement.
I think the greatest lasting measurement of Mr. Jackson’s talent is the degree to which I–and most of the audience members I spoke with–all would have loved to have seen more actual performance footage. The same cannot be said of many other aging stars who often have to bring in younger talent to do the harder parts of what they used to do in younger years.
Watching “This Is It,” it is hard to believe Michael Jackson was a 50-year-old man as he was making it. He looked sharp mentally and physically. Prepare yourself–there aren’t the “wow” moves that marked the highlight moments of his career, but hey, this was only rehearsals. It was his habit to go about two-thirds to three-quarters in his rehearsals and then unleash in his show.
I join with the many who mourn that he never hit the stage with this show, and that he’ll never hit the stage again. I can only hope that the inspiration he sought to both receive and dispense through this show brought Him to his own place of peace with the Creator.
In interviews towards the latter part of his life, he had been quoted as saying “all I want is peace.” I hope he found what Jesus called “peace not as the world gives,” the kind that would transcend the battles, controversies and myths he faced in life. And I hope his many fans find a measure of peace–and an end to mourning–through this fitting tribute.