Leaving Neverland, aka Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me tells us what we’ve all known for years: Michael Jackson sexually-abused children.
Or do you think he’s innocent, and that he was the victim in all this? And if that’s the case, then what about others accused of such crimes, yet never caught and have since died, such as Jimmy Savile? Where does it all stop?
The rumours were always abound, of children coming to spend the night with him, in his bed, at his Neverland ranch. I mean, seriously, if you’re a parent, why would you let them spend time alone with him overnight? Were you hoping to sacrifice your child’s innocence for a quick cash-in down the line?!
It’s a conflicting thing to watch this, since I certainly was a fan of the self-proclaimed King of Pop’s music, and when the very adult horror video for Thriller was released, it absolutely blew everyone’s mind, as it was the most extravagant pop video ever made. I had the album, and we’d previously owned Off The Wall in our household.
Everyone can get star-struck, but it starts to get dark around 20 minutes in (and then never lets up), when after meeting Jimmy Safechuck at one of his concerts and then getting him up on stage, Jackson called him up next time he was in Australia, and the first thing he hears from Jimmy is that friends of his are telling him that Jackson is “weird”, causing the singer to deny that. This is followed by him giving Jimmy clothes, stacks of cash and one-on-one friendship.
However, Jackson also tells Jimmy’s God-fearing mother than like her, he also prayed, and it was to be with Jimmy as his friend. So, religion makes nutters of the religious, and things got even more intense between them when they shared a hotel room in Paris. Beyond that, I don’t even really want to repeat what is described, but it’s beyond disgusting.
The story moves on to Wade Robson, where endless phone calls lead to endless fax messages between them (which are shown), and then we learn what they learned at the time, which is that he seemed to move on to a different young boy about every 12 months, casting the previous ones aside. I guess you just can’t trust a paedo to be truthful!
There’s a ton of pictures of the Neverland Ranch, to the point where it makes Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory a pitiful embarrassment of a place to visit. However, post-Michael Jackson’s death, the place is up for sale at a knockdown price of just $31m!
This is a long story, but when we get to part 2, you do start getting that feeling of lethargy, and are less surprised by everything that he gets up to, since it just feels like it’s raking old ground again and again, even though time is moving on in the story. You get the feeling that, for him, it’s a good job that he’s dead, since nowadays, it wouldn’t take long for someone to gun him down in such a trigger-happy country.
Leaving Neverland is certainly worth a watch, but it’s a long watch, which is a bit wearing.
And if you still think Michael Jackson is innocent after all of this, ask why on Earth would any normal-brained man want to spend so much time with a pre-pubescent child? Answer: he wouldn’t.
Oddly, this documentary is presented in a cinematic-style 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Sure, they’re going for the cinematic feel, but that results in original 4:3 footage being windowboxed into a tiny screen, so I think they should’ve just gone with 16:9 for the interviews, so the 4:3 footage wouldn’t be so small.
Note that my review is based on the US release of this documentary, which is 245 minutes in total between the two parts. Channel 4 are also showing this in two parts, but with lengths of 110 minutes and 120 minutes, respectively, and that’s WITH adverts! What are they cutting out?
Director Dan Reed also brought us the 70-minute 2014 documentary The Paedophile Hunter, which I haven’t seen, but quite frequently, you see gangs of the same, broadcasting live on Facebook and going after men who they accused of doing sordid and depraved things to children. In the days before Facebook, such gangs would find those people and beat them up anonymously. Nowadays, they broadcast them live on the internet.
If these people are guilty of the crimes of which they’re accused, then that’s one thing, but how do we know that? They could be completely innocent, and now their reputations are tarnished forever. After all, look at all those cases where vigilante gangs have gone after men they think are paedophiles, yet they actually turned out to be paediatricians. So don’t always assume these ‘hunters’ have brains.
One final thought, and which proves Michael Jackson was at least good for something: My grandfather died in June 2009. His funeral took place on the 26th of that month. The night before, I was watching Question Time and wishing something would happen that would just help me take my mind off the fact that the funeral was happening the next day… and then after that programme, the breaking news came on BBC1 that Michael Jackson had died… and the next day, yes, it was still a very sad occasion, but there were times when I was thinking, “Eh? Michael Jackson’s dead?!”
Leaving Neverland is broadcast in two parts on March 6th and 7th, but it’s not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 245 minutes
Channel 4 Broadcast date: March 6th and 7th 2019 (two parts)
Studio: HBO and Channel 4
Director: Dan Reed
Producers: Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, Owen Phillips, Dan Reed
Music: Chad Hobson
Michael Jackson (archive Footage)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.