Michael Jackson starred in and produced upwards of forty films in a career which showcases many of the most watched short films of all time. The four-minute sequence often perceived to be ‘Bad’ (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1987) is in fact the epicentre of a much longer narrative. Parodied in ‘Moonwalker’ (dir. Jerry Kramer, 1988) in the spirit of ‘Bugsy Malone’ (dir. Alan Parker, 1976), it is nevertheless targeted towards adults. Richard Price’s screenplay was inspired by a 1985 shooting and explores several complex themes. This essay de-constructs ‘Bad’ for its cinematic significance, discussing its cultural relevance and artistry through a shot-by-shot analysis which interprets the film through mise en scène, cinematography, performances and wider context.
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