Even in death the king of pop, Michael Jackson, is still making people stand on their feet. Making the rounds to all the film festivals this week is Spike Lee’s obsessive detail-oriented documentary is finally revealed as a posthumous tribute, Bad 25. The film, which is both a tribute to the 1987 album Bad and an intimate portrait of Jackson’s work ethic acts as a musically informed snapshot into Jackson’s music video art process.
As reviewed by The Hollywood Reporter, the most important aspect of Lee’s tribute to Jackson is the way he recaptures old footage:
“More poignantly, it serves to remove the veil of late-period craziness and allegations and restore the reputation of Jackson as a multihyphenate musician of peerless discipline, professionalism and perfectionism — not to mention a pioneering influence in dance and fashion.”
It seems as though Spike Lee’s meticulous handiwork on the film has paid off, with Bad 25 receiving standing ovations at Venice and Toronto film festivals. Lee isn’t just a fan of Michael’s work, but also a collaborator. In 1996 Lee directed the video for Michael Jackson’s controversial song “They Don’t Care About Us.” However, aside from one or two clips of Lee, he appears mostly off screen as an observer.
According to those who have seen the documentary, it is obvious from a viewing of Bad 25 that Lee has spoken to the fans with his love letter film about Jackson. Hollywood Reporter notes about the director’s endless trivia of Michael’s influence in the music industry, “Who remembered that one of Wesley Snipes’ earliest roles was in the “Bad” video? Or that the arcane refrain “Shamone!” was Jackson’s homage to Mavis Staples? Or that the line “Annie, are you OK?” was inspired by the standard name given to CPR demonstration dummies?”
For those worried that Lee’s involvement with Jackson on a professional level has affected his way of capturing the much discussed man from all sides of the spectrum, rest easy. The Guardian states otherwise, “Lee doesn’t try to pretend that he was not eccentric, but insists that Jackson’s eccentricity isn’t the point. Spike Lee’s emphasis’s instead what Jackson’s achieved in the public sphere: in music and in dance, and his exuberant reverence for the lonely King of Pop is contagious.”
Of his motivation for creating the documentary about Bad Spike Lee said:
“When I got the mandate from the estate and Sony records, they wanted to just concentrate on the music. Too many years we — I’m going to include myself — we concentrated about stuff on Michael Jackson and it had nothing to do with the music. This was a chance, a time to concentrate on the music. We all are blessed with the final work, but it’s rare that you get to see how it gets put together.”
Are you excited to see Michael Jackson’s Bad 25?