(Rated PG for some provocative action): Despite all the hype over the pop star's life & death, this was my first exposure to his routines - and what an amazing reaction it was!
No mention of personal life in the past news - only what the Jackson family agreed would honor the 50-year-old star, to reveal him as a uniquely talented song & dance man - exacting, benevolent, patient, driven - mainly through his final days of rehearsals, and no more.
And what rehearsals they are! Beginning with a chorus-line kind of audition process, narrowing down hundreds of hopefuls to a final handful, we are witness to the development of rehearsals for half a dozen elaborately conceived numbers - excerpts from "Thriller," "Man in the Mirror," "Billie Jean," & others - all smoothly cut from various rehearsals, stage settings in various stages of completion, and interruptions for the correction of minor infractions.
The sound stage is enormous, the ancillary effects - lighting, fireworks, sounds, props, backdrops, make-up, costuming - would make the Hollywood musical epic-makers green with envy. The combined drive for absolute perfection, the congenial interaction with cast & crew, the little gentle moments between The King and his people - all very friendly, even gentle, punctuated with a "God bless you" in what is referred to as the "church of rock & roll" - suggests a following of endearing people who adore & love their leader, expending energy at the highest level during the grinding rehearsals.
As one technician said, "We're trying to push the borders to the limit, 'cause that's what it's all about." Another adds, "We want to take them places they've never been before." With an unlimited budget & an exceptional crew, they are prepared to succeed.
At the end there is a touching moment when Jackson, Ortega, cast & crew join hands in a huge circle in celebrating their primary goal, to "save the world through love & music." It is, indeed, the church of rock & roll.
We get to know Jackson only through what we see & hear here. We get to appreciate his talent - his amazing body movements, his sincere little girl's voice, his elaborate gyrations - even the painted skeletal face becomes less grotesque as the sum total of his frenetic being takes over.
It's an impressively mounted, carefully censored bio. We don't get a complete picture of the star, nor was that the production's intent. What we get is fascinating from beginning to end. His family will cherish this truncated bio forever.