Sunday, March 14, 2010

Not Only See...But HEAR

I'm excited because as soon as this post goes up I'm off to spend the day at my favorite place in the world, or, if you prefer, The Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland! It will actually be my second trip to the House of Mouse in the past seven days, as last Tuesday evening one of my Disneyland buddies had the thrill and the honor of introducing me to a piece of the park's past that was most dear to her growing up but which for one reason or another I had never experienced. Yes, as of late February, for an undetermined length of time to come, visitors to Disneyland have the opportunity to revisit or discover Captain EO, the sixteen minute, multi-million dollar 1986 3D film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, produced by George Lucas, and starring the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson in the title role (Anjelica Huston plays a pivotal if mostly unrecognizable supporting role). And what a thrill it is to experience the unabashed mid-80s techno-geek pop music-driven glee that unfolds in front of your 3D-goggled eyes. Sure, the 3D is noticeably outdated in a post-Avatar world, the story is ludicrous, the special effects are "special" in the less complimentary vernacular sense, and the hair...oh, the hair!

But the audience is excited as ever, and still cheers when Jackson makes his entrance (rising from the floor of a ragtag spaceship, back to the camera); there is still something utterly fantastic about a clumsy blue elephant-like alien in a wifebeater who constantly screws things up ("Where's the map?" "I think I ate it!" "You ATE it?!?!"), and how the sinister guards of the twisted metallic Supreme Leader (Huston) magically transform into neon-clad backup dancers at the wave of Jacko's hand, and Huston's delightfully wicked line deliveries ("Turn them into...*long pause*...TRASH CANS!" - surely a study for her subsequent performance as the Grand High Witch in The Witches). But it is Jackson's gleeful performance, the choreography, and the very Jacksonesque main tune with which Captain EO transforms the Supreme Leader from a bundle of wires into Anjelica Huston, entitled "We Are Here to Change the World." As a single (it was not released as one) it fits perfectly into Jackson's post-Thriller, pre-Bad repertoire, and the dancing is, of course, superb as always; in a way, Captain EO is the brainchild of the "Thriller" video and ancestor of such overblown mini-theatrical events like the recent music videos for Lady Gaga's "Telephone" and the Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be Rockin' That Body." And because it's for Disney, it simply does it all leaps and bounds better than any of those descendents.

I'll leave you with the main theme song to Captain EO as I venture down to no doubt experience the joy another time or two; if you happen to find yourself at Disneyland in the forseeable future, I recommend taking the time to check it out at least once, whether for the sake of nostalgia or unenlightened novice curiosity. You'll leave singing.

"We Are Here to Change the World"
Michael Jackson
Captain EO
Disneyland, 1986

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