'Michael Jackson: BAD 25' (2012) // Words: Saam Das
SYNOPSIS: "Oscar-nominated director Spike Lee's documentary assessment and celebration of Michael Jackson's 1987 blockbuster album 'Bad', the follow-up to 'Thriller'." (bbc.co.uk)
How do you follow up one of the greatest and most successful albums of all time? Few could manage to come anywhere close. But Michael Jackson (and his producer Quincy Jones) followed 'Thriller' with 'Bad' - an immensely acclaimed and successful album in its own right. Prominent filmmaker Spike Lee explores the making of the album.
Lee is perhaps better known for his feature films, like 1988's 'Do The Right Thing', nominated for a Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. However, his other Oscar nomination came for a documentary examining the death of children killed in an Alabama bombing, '4 Little Girls'.
His latest offering isn't in the running for the forthcoming Oscars, perhaps understandably as it largely ignores the inherent drama of Jackson's life. Instead, Lee opts to deeply analyse the album, track-by-track - combining never-before-seen archive footage with voxpops from a whole host of figures either involved or influenced by 'Bad'.
Much of the early section of the film is pleasingly dedicated to title track 'Bad' and its music video, or "short film" as Jackson preferred calling his videos. Not only do we learn more about one of Wesley Snipes' first acting roles but we get the pleasure of hearing auteur Martin Scorcese run through creating the video.
Musicians such as Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Cee Lo Green, and perhaps unfortunately Chris Brown, discuss Jackon, whilst Jackson's own influences are highlights - "shamone" cribbed from legendary gospel and R&B singer Mavis Staples. Whilst this is all fascinating and enjoyable in its own right, the relative lack of Quincy Jones and the glossing over of Jackson's personal life reduces the impact of 'BAD 25'.
'Michael Jackson: BAD 25' is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until 23:59, 8 Dec 2012.