Lee brings Michael Jackson "Bad" magic to big screen

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:21am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - Spike Lee's film about the making of Michael Jackson's 1987 album "Bad" may border on hagiography at times, but live footage and the singer's attention to detail when at the peak of his powers are a reminder of why he remains the "King of Pop".

The two-hour documentary called "Bad 25", which has its world premiere at the Venice film festival on Friday, is a familiar mix of talking heads - choreographers, producers and stars - and film of concerts, rehearsals and music videos.

Released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Jackson's acclaimed follow-up to "Thriller", Lee provides few surprises for Jackson aficionados, but paints a picture of a genius at work who cared about every step of the production process.

"I think that it was too many years we've ... concentrated on stuff about Michael Jackson that had nothing to do with the music," Lee told reporters, 25 years to the day after Bad hit the shelves.

The documentary, which Lee called his "love letter" to Jackson, has the backing both of the singer's estate and his record label, giving Lee access to many of the key players in the making of what is regarded as a milestone album.

"It was a chance to really dig into his creative process," he added.

"We all are blessed with the final work, but it's rare that you get to see how something is put together. We just see the final product. We don't see the blood, sweat and tears, all the work that goes into how the masters work."

Among the novelties is footage taken by Jackson himself, using a handheld camera, of Siedah Garrett singing "Man in the Mirror", the song she co-wrote for the star, a cappella save for an off-camera clicking of fingers laying down the beat.   Continued...

A crucifix is seen over the image of U.S. singer Michael Jackson on U.S. director Spike Lee's t-shirt as he poses during the photocall of the movie "Bad 25" at the 69th Venice Film Festival in Venice August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi