Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall

Director Spike Lee chronicles Michael Jackson's early rise to fame.


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  • ★★★★½ review by Mika Strouse on Letterboxd

    This documentary on the impressive, to say the least, Michael Jackson...Is GOLD. Can't help but think of the time and skill at which Spike Lee puts into this needed to be told Documentary on the life of Michael Jackson leading up to his release of OFF THE WALL. The old footage. As clear as it can be. Stunning. The editing is incredible. The interviews from the people who were there, in the studio. To the people who were influenced in and around the time of Michael, and the Jackson 5. I didn't want it to end. And yet, I'm reminded of just how extraordinary of a talent Michael was. And the extraordinary sad events on how we lost him.

  • ★★★★ review by maxwill on Letterboxd

    I'm not the biggest documentary watcher, so I don't have a lot of docs to compare this to but I pretty much find them all good and educational in some way, and when you have one that's about the king of pop? Yeah, it's gonna be a good time.

    The doc spends all of its time focusing on his early (and best) years, from The Jackson 5 to The Jacksons, to being his own name with his first album, "Off the Wall", a great album that gets unjustly overshadowed by the biggest album of all time, "Thriller".

    For those of you that have access to the channel Showtime, that's where I watched it!

    Now... what if I told you that this is my first Spike Lee film...

    I know. I'm ashamed.

  • ★★★★ review by loureviews on Letterboxd

    It's still hard to think MJ has left the building. This film looks at his early years up to his first solo album.

    The young Michael, with his older brothers, was an electric performer. A little bundle of dynamite. But even by the time of 'Off The Wall' something weird was happening, and it is hinted at in this film, if not directly addressed.

    There are top-class talking heads here, and ultimately they all agree that MJ's first solo album was 'classic disco' that probably 'never dates'. It was a piece of music that was not exclusively black, and indeed the artist started to move away from his roots physically after the bounce and energy of this work.

    The boy was growing up. Except, as we all know now, he didn't.

  • ★★★★ review by Stankshadow on Letterboxd

    Spike Lee's fascinating look at the evolution of Michael Jacksons early career. The film features many of the people who influenced and worked with MJ in his early career as a solo artist. It does a really great job of showing how impactful the music is and how smart and talented Michael actually was. It's easy to forget or overlook all the great things that Michael Jackson gave the world with the accusations and the rumors that clouded the end of his career. It was nice to be able to enjoy his music and accomplishments without being constantly reminded of how dark it eventually got.

    I'm truly sad that my daughter will grow up in a world without Michael Jackson and Prince and many other artists that pushed me out of my comfort zones and showed me how amazing music can be. I hope that somewhere another person with the talent and heart of Michael Jackson will come along to give her what was given to me.

  • ★★★★ review by Matt Thomas on Letterboxd

    Yes, we've heard the Michael Jackson story 100 times by now. But this takes a fresh perspective - examining his transition from group member to solo artist. And, as archive footage of Michael often tends to do, re-reminds you what a focused, genius talent he was - and from such a young age. The contributors are of the highest calibre. There's not a huge amount of criticism but, at this stage in his career/life at least, he didn't really put too many steps wrong. The Studio 54 section tickled me too.

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