1993 documentary narrated by Michael Jackson from his personal archive, including footage of friends and family. The "King," clearly, never grew up socially. The video is the complete uninterrupted version and is over an hour long.
When great artists die, we can set aside what they became. We can go back in time and relive those moments when their future… and ours.. was wide open.
Michael Jackson videos are among the most groundbreaking pop-culture events of our era. Before your eyes boundaries dissolve – of race, of sex, of class – even boundaries between historical eras. And it’s not the songs themselves – it’s the dancing. It’s the moves. Where did they come from? All over. The young Michael Jackson studied James Brown and his slides and wild funky exuberance. He worshiped Fred Astaire and his long limbs and easy elegant stride…and hats! And from Jerome Robbins’ choreography for West Side Story, for with its roots in ballet. Beat It, where he makes peace between warring gangs is a direct homage.
Jackson took these disparate influences and magically unified them. Partly because he saw himself as a musical messiah. The black white, masculine feminine, man child, hip-hop Fred Astaire. Truly, the King of Pop.
It was in Beat It and, of course, Billie Jean, where he found his blend of dearness and aggression. In Billie Jean he’s a ghostly mirage pulling up his collar, outmaneuvering the stalkers, bursting over in anger and finally dematerializing.
The moonwalking moment from Motown 25th anniversary confirmed that he was, indeed, supernatural.
The video, Thriller, redefined the genre. Jackson’s whole life was about transformation. Now, in an instant, he could leap between angry monster and sweet lover. Thriller crossed another boundary. An alleged MTV color barrier that kept black music out.
But everyone agreed on Michael Jackson. Each video would now be an event.
In the songs on the album Bad, his dancing was sharper than anyone’s … and looser than anyone’s. The breathlessly inventive Smooth Criminal is his gangster Fantasia, his Guys and Dolls.
But oddly as Jackson’s features were becoming more Diana Ross girlish, he was doing more macho posturing. The Way You Make Me Fee has real drive but surprisingly crude pelvic thrusts. Needless to say, the man had issues.
Michael Jackson could have revolutionized the movie musical especially if he found his Ginger Rodgers, female or male, to penentrate his bubble.
Instead, he became a solitary figure even as he gave himself over as the role of messiah, world savior introduced in HIStory’s beginning stellar sequence, his haunting Earth Song and the musical coup of They Don’t Care About Us filmed in a shantytown of South America.
But as the stories of his private life became more thwarted, his songs could still transport you with the depth of their emotion.
When you watch him sing the lovely ballad, You are Not Alone, your heart breaks – but no one was singing a song like that to him.