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Friday, December 03, 2021

A Life in Music

The tabloids buzzed about him and a fair share of controversies kept him in the news.

Written by Somya Lakhani |
December 17, 2011 3:36:57 am

Every time a book or a documentary on the King of Pop,Michael Jackson,is released,one wonders what is left to know about him. The tabloids buzzed about him and a fair share of controversies kept him in the news. Worldwide hysteria greeted the concert-documentary film ThisIs It (2009). It was the last film that Jackson starred in and had uncut backstage rehearsal footage. The film,however,lost out on the “personal” front and here’s where David Gest’s Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon,released in October,comes in.

The 150-minute-long film not only traces Jackson’s personal and professional life,but it also shows how his choices affected him and his family. His mother Katherine Jackson,siblings Tito and Rebbie,popular musicians such as Smokey Robinson,Dionne Warwick,the late Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson are part of the film. A slew of intimate interviews make the film worth a watch. It’s as much about MJ as it’s about those closest to him.

Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon reveals details about the pop star that This Is It failed to do. Katherine fondly talks about how eleven-month-old Michael would dance to the creaking washing machine in their two-room house in Gary,Indiana; Tito talks about the formation of the The Jackson 5 and how the brothers did not want to include a young Jackson; and there are tales of the tyrant father,Joe. Iconic singer Dionne Warwick talks about the first time she met MJ,a shy 10-year-old who turned into a feisty performer on stage.

The best bit about the film is that it brings singer Bobby Taylor to the forefront. Few know that it was Taylor who shaped the band,and got them their first record deal with Motown. The success of the band was followed by a period of disillusionment,followed by Jackson’s transition to a solo artiste,the release of Off the Wall and later the super success of Thriller. The film takes the viewer on a whirlwind journey of these ups and downs.

Produced by Gest,who was a close friend of both Tito and Jackson,the film surprises with its honesty. No sensitive topic is shoved under a carpet. Details of a vulnerable Jackson getting plastic surgeries in 1978,the tragic scalp injury while shooting a Pepsi commercial,his drug problem,fraught relationship with his father,two marriages,the Chandler molestation case in 1993 and acquittals in 2005,and his untimely death,are all dealt with.

However,there are absences —Jackson’s children are not here nor is there a possible explanation from Jackson’s father. Thriller and Billie Jean don’t make it to the film either. It still keeps you hooked and leaves you in a Michael Jackson trance.

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