The final curtain call. $21.3 million in sales. Top of the box office. If the near penniless Michael Jackson were alive to perform the scheduled 50 concerts, his comeback would be riveting, a class act frozen in time; as young viewers, our emotions would mirror those of our parents in the 80s as we realized his ultimate artistic greatness.

“This is It,” culled from over 100 hours of film, portrays Jackson in a process that the humble perfectionist may have never wanted us to see: a 50-year-old man holding back on songs, saving his voice for the people on the big day, yet still filling his famed footwork with galactic energy, radiant spirit, offering the audience something new in every take. Nothing Michael Jackson does is ever really the same. Everything he does is out of this world, reheated with creative spices, offered each time with a different touch, a new taste.

In the artistic sense, that is. The film depicts a rail thin Jackson, facially transformed from his cute afro-puff with golden brown skin to a pale white man with a nose that seemed to have been crafted from papiermâché and adhesive putty. Still, the hours of his rehearsal reveal the confident side of a man that shied away from our scrutinizing public eyes behind surgical masks and glassy aviators in public: a man that did not fear getting close to the ladies on stage, showing off his vocal skills in Spanish, and a thugged out Jackson crooning about sustainability and environmentalism. And just as you find your- self bouncing in your seat, singing and clap- ping along to “The Way you Make Me Feel” and “Thriller,” you slowly shudder in embarrassment at the thought of reveling over a passed man’s music, subconsciously investigating the film for signs that showed he was close to death.

And in that ironic showcase you forget about the painkiller addict and realize the talented man that swept the globe off its feet. You see how he came alive on stage. You feel his spirit, his message, based in those tunes. The images of Wacko Jacko fade away and yellow like dog- eared tabloids from years past, leaving us with clear, crisp images of the powerful love that he wanted to share with the world. The film said it all. This was Michael Jackson.