Spike Lee's new documentary celebrates cultural impact of Michael Jackson

PARK CITY, Utah - As a young artist, Michael Jackson knew he wanted to be legendary.

"I will be magic," he wrote as a teenager, outlining his plans for his career.

See Full Article

"I will be better than every great actor roped in one."

Jackson's drive to succeed and his striking talent as a singer, dancer and songwriter are the focus of Spike Lee's new documentary, "Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to 'Off the Wall,"' which made its world premiere Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival.

"This film is all about love toward Michael Joseph Jackson," Lee said as he introduced the film, which is dedicated to Jackson's children Prince, Paris and "Biji" (formerly Blanket), along with family matriarch Katherine Jackson.

Beginning with the Jackson 5's earliest songs with Motown Records - featuring a charismatic 9-year-old Michael on lead vocals - the film explores Jackson's growth as an artist and the perfectionist nature that fueled his work ethic.

Archival footage of the Jacksons' performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show," "American Bandstand" and their "Destiny" tour is interspersed with interviews with music industry talents from then and now. Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Kelly, Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones and Questlove, along with contemporary music producers Mark Ronson and Rodney Jerkins, are among dozens of voices in the film. Jackson's brothers Marlon and Jackie also appear on screen, but sisters Janet and LaToya do not.

"Everyone was invited to participate, but we used those who wanted to participate," said Jackson's longtime attorney John Branca, now executor of Jackson's estate and a producer of the film. "Certain (members) of the Jackson family are not quite big fans of (fellow attorney) John and I, but that's fine. We're trying to do right by Michael."

This film makes viewers miss Jackson's dynamic dancing and mellifluous voice while deepening their appreciation of his talents and endless efforts to hone them.

"I do believe deeply in perfection," Jackson says in a 1976 interview.

It captures Jackson's evolution from a breakout child star to a multifaceted adult entertainer determined to transcend barriers of race and genre. Even as a teenager, he dreamed of being able to "translate my music to different countries: Japan, Sweden... even Australia."

"He took black music to a place where it became human music," Pharrell Williams says in the film. "My music would not be here if it wasn't for his music."

Lee goes beyond music, however: Ballerina Misty Copeland credits Jackson for inspiring her love of dance. L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant says Jackson's approach to his art "impacted everything for me."

The late Sidney Lumet, who directed Jackson in the 1978 film "The Wiz," said: "Michael may be the purest talent I've ever seen."

The film follows Jackson's career until the release of his groundbreaking 1979 album "Off the Wall," which paved the way for 1982's "Thriller," the bestselling album in history.

It doesn't get into Jackson's personal life or any of the legal troubles that would plague him later in life. It's simply a portrait of a man and his music.

"Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to 'Off the Wall"' is set to premiere Feb. 5 on Showtime.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Janelle Monae and Maxwell among artists to perform at Women's March

    Entertainment CTV News
    Artists like Janelle Monae, Maxwell, Questlove, and Samantha Ronson will be performing at the Women's March on Washington this weekend. Organizers announced the line-up of singers and artists who will perform at the march, which is expected to draw about 200,000 people. Source
  • Graceland Black Lives Matter protest leads to lawsuit

    Entertainment CTV News
    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Five people have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Memphis and Elvis Presley's Graceland, saying they were discriminated against at a protest by a coalition associated with the Black Lives Matter movement during the annual vigil commemorating the singer's death. Source
  • Canadian doc 'Rumble' exposes unheralded influence of Native American musicians

    Entertainment CTV News
    PARK CIT, Utah -- They were the power chords that sparked a musical revolution: three growling, fuzzy blasts that made Link Wray's 1958 banned-by-radio instrumental "Rumble" a rule-breaking inspiration for rock guitarists who followed. The song kicks off the documentary "Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World," from Montreal-based filmmakers Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, which has its world premiere Sunday in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and will air on The Movie…
  • Solange Knowles headlines progressive 'Peace Ball'

    Entertainment CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The main attraction, Solange Knowles, didn't hit the stage until close to midnight, but the 3,000 or so enthusiastic guests packed into the National Museum of African American History and Culture weren't going anywhere. Source
  • Madonna on Trump: 'We have gone as low as we can go'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Madonna, an outspoken critic of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, is trying to put a positive spin on his Friday inauguration. "He's actually doing us a great service, because we have gone as low as we can go," she said Thursday night. Source
  • Movie reviews: 'Split' re-establishes Shyamalan as master of twist ending

    Entertainment CTV News
    SPLIT: 4 STARS Let’s twist again, like we did last summer! Or in this case, like we did a decade or so ago when director M. Night Shyamalan became the master of the trick ending. Source
  • 'Dance Moms' star's sentencing hearing set to begin

    Entertainment CTV News
    PITTSBURGH - A federal judge will decide if "Dance Moms" reality TV star Abby Lee Miller should be sentenced to prison or probation for concealing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of income during her Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Source
  • Actors, Manhattan residents protest ahead of Trump inauguration

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Actors Robert De Niro, Sally Field and Mark Ruffalo joined hundreds of other people outside a Donald Trump building on Thursday for a pre-inauguration demonstration organizers said was meant to energize those concerned about the Republican president-elect's policies. Source
  • 'NCIS: Los Angeles' star Miguel Ferrer dead at 61

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Miguel Ferrer, who brought stern authority to his featured role on CBS' hit "NCIS: Los Angeles" and, before that, to NBC crime drama "Crossing Jordan," has died. CBS said Ferrer died Thursday of cancer at his Los Angeles home. Source
  • Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson in talks for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels reboot

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Anne Hathaway is in talks to join Rebel Wilson for an upcoming reboot of 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Australian comedienne Wilson is already attached to the female-led revamp, and sources tell Deadline Academy Award-winner Hathaway is eyeing the second main role. Source