IF YOU didn't know that legends worked for a living, you'd know it now with This Is It.
Usually the word "living" would be a bad choice for a departed person. But Michael Jackson transcended description at so many levels that words are inadequate for the story of his life, and his death on June 25.
Platitudes have come in about the film - close friend Elizabeth Taylor hailed it with expected bias as "the single most brilliant piece of film-making" - but criticisms, of course, also abound.
Some say the film, showing Jackson practising for his intended run of concerts in London, was made too soon, that it is exploitative, superficial, gushy and that it's simply edited adulation, as though the movie was meant to be a revealing documentary.
Of course, it isn't.
It says in the opening credits, upfront and bluntly, that the film is "for the fans".
And the fans have responded in kind.
This Is It has grossed an estimated US$101 million (S$141.3 million) globally over five days (US$68.5 million of that total from outside the United States and Canada).
It was the No. 1 movie in the US and Singapore - the impressive takings over the weekend here totalled more than $648,000. Top territories included Japan, with US$10.4 million and Britain, with US$7.6 million.
Collectively, those fans must have been glad to see The Concert That Never Was, and, by a tragic twist of fate, it actually turned out to be the greatest concert by Jackson which we weren't really meant to see.
If the 50 shows booked for London had gone by (and they would've been quite spectacular, judging from the scale and effects seen on the screen) instead of this accidental behind-the-scenes expose, we wouldn't have known quite so personally and so intrusively what MJ the Performer actually spent most of his time doing.
We wouldn't have known, for instance, that, contrary to misconceptions, he seemed healthy. In fact, he looked so healthy that, at the age of 50, he could still moonwalk and move to the groove with dancers half his age.
He knew every one of his songs in fine detail, right down to the key, arrangement and even to when the dramatic pause would be at its most dramatic.
But most moving was the fact that he showed that he had moved from pop icon to pop mentor, passing some of the limelight to his supporting cast.
To his lead guitarist, Aussie rocker Orianthi, he encouraged: "It's your time to shine."
You couldn't script a film like this - the most enigmatic, most bizarre, most flawed, most private of legends made to look so very mortal as he rehearsed and cajoled his crew to catch up with his finely honed craft.
Put simply, the single most lasting thing you take from This Is It is that even with his strange, plastic face, Jackson was made to look human, and he really worked hard to project his sense of superhumanness.
It's the Portrait Of The Artist As A Toiler.
On a darkened stage, as he fine-tuned his voice, style, ageing joints and basic essence in private steps, he proves in This Is It that perfection comes from many parts inspiration, but more parts perspiration.
In this terrific homage, Michael Jackson seemed to work for a living, just like all of us.
As a fan, a critic and a consumer of all news good and bad about MJ, I'm in awe of his genius, his extraordinariness and, yes, his ordinariness.
This Is It ends its run next Wednesday.
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