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Magic Mike! Michael Jackson’s rarest, greatest clips

Michael Jackson loved the moving image. He’s rightfully credited with inventing the big-scale music video (although he always referred to them as short films), and often had cameramen following him around to capture his life for his home video library. From the horror show of Thriller to the Egyptian court of Remember the Time and the underground mafia club of You Rock My World, Michael’s short films are some of the most celebrated in music, and doing a top five on them would be impossible let alone pointless, because they still seem to gain a million views on the internet every day. Instead, i-D dug deep into the secret pockets of YouTube, and found some of the rarest and most incredible Michael Jackson footage out there. Filtered and unfiltered, this is the man, the music, and the magic.

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Text Anders Christian Madsen
Image MJJ Productions

 

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  • speed demon trailer talk

    A true magician, Michael rarely revealed the secrets of his magic. After all, part of what made him so captivating was keeping people guessing. And while there’s no major revelation in this behind-the-scenes home video clip from the filming of Speed Demon, it’s one of the rarest and best glimpses of the King of Pop off duty. Michael’s beloved make-up artist for life, Karen Faye, is filming while his dressmaker Michael Bush adds layer upon layer and glove upon glove to the Speed Demon outfit. There’s something incredibly surreal and awe-inspiring about seeing this supernatural creature, who could command a stadium of thousands, talking about fingertip tape and singing jingles in a dusty trailer with two of his best friends, humble and soft-spoken as ever.

  • elizabeth and the elephant

    Before rappers and basketball players took MTV around their ‘cribs’ and bragged about their riches, Michael was quietly and quite literally building an out-of-this-world empire at Neverland. It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that he released a documentary of his home videos, which included this clip of Dame Elizabeth Taylor presenting him with an elephant, a gesture he returned with a portrait of his best friend. Michael employed cameramen to film his life, not for the public to to admire, but for himself to have and appreciate. While a lot of the clips that were leaked after he passed away feel too private to watch, this one was released by Michael and is a given on this list: two larger-than-life, super famous icons exchanging the most lavish gifts on Earth. Completely fabulous.

  • the raisin commercial

    For Michael, getting things to be exactly how he wanted them could often be extremely frustrating. Case in point: for Moonwalker, his 88 feature film, Michael wanted to include a dream sequence in which he imagined himself and his backup dancers as raisins starring in a commercial for, well, raisins. Only the producers didn’t fully grasp Michael’s creative scope for the film. Frustrated with the fact that two of the backup dancer raisins, which only appear for a few seconds, weren’t up to scratch when it came to attitude and body language, Michael filmed a message for his director in which he carefully explained his vision for the two raisins and acted it out. The hands-down best part of the clip is when an obviously irritated Michael sighs and storms towards the camera to turn it off, then comes back to add a few words, before he storms off again. It isn’t easy being a perfectionist.

  • 92 pepsi commercial

    In his interviews and lyrics, Michael often spoke about the childhood he never had, and which he would forever spend his adult life was living out. “People say I’m strange that way, ‘cause I love such elementary things,” he sang on Childhood. A few years before, his Pepsi commercial from 92 sublimely morphed Michael the adult businessman with Michael the eternal child, and resulted in one of the most honest, beautiful and heart-rending productions of his life, which is kind of unexpected for a commercial. There’s something about Michael playing the piano and singing his childhood hit I’ll Be There to a kid version of himself, dressed down in his adult shape and in full costume as a child, which breaks your heart and almost puts it together again.

  • ghosts

    It may not be extremely rare, but when it comes to the least known of Michael’s bigger productions, none are more extraordinary than Ghosts. The short film is Michael’s masterpiece in the category of songs and videos he created about the way society mistreated him. A metaphor for freaks and outsiders, he portrayed himself as the ghoul master of a haunted house, who becomes the victim of a village witch-hunt. “Tell me, are you the ghost of jealousy?” Michael asks his adversaries in the film’s lead single, which is one of his most interesting and layered songs ever. Stan Winston worked with Michael on the short film, in which he also plays The Mayor, and which accompanied his Blood on the Dance Floor album. It was so important at the time that it was distributed to cinemas around the world. Ghosts is chillingly awesome social commentary, and still as relevant as ever.