3.5.19 leaving neverland

Stars: 4/5

The controversial two-part Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland” has premiered on the HBO streaming service months after originally appearing at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Leaving Neverland” is a documentary directed and produced by British filmmaker Dan Reed. The documentary follows two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson. Both men accuse the late Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were little boys.

This isn’t the first time Jackson had been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor. In 1993, he was accused of sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler and the case was settled out of court, and no criminal charges were officially filed. Jackson was acquitted on all of the charges in 2005, five years before his death in 2010.

“Leaving Neverland” is composed of very raw and emotional interviews with Safechuck and Robson, where they describe their relationships with Jackson including how they met him and the events leading up to the alleged sexual abuse. Both boys’ mothers are also interviewed, along with other family members. Jackson also appears in the documentary through archived footage.

The interviews with Safechuck and Robson make the documentary so real and heartbreaking. Both boys told similar stories in extreme detail regarding the emotional and sexual abuse that Jackson put them through for several years. The boys also have similar yet different stories of how they ended up in the hands of Jackson.

Safechuck first met Jackson when he was 10 years old and was starring with the singer in a Pepsi commercial. The relationship evolved from there and eventually Jackson inserted himself into the lives of the whole Safechuck family and manipulated the family into thinking he could be trusted. Jackson allegedly sexually abused Safechuck for many years and made him believe that what they were doing was not wrong.

Robson met Jackson when he was only 7 years old when he won a dancing contest in Australia. Jackson eventually became nearly obsessed with him and invited him on tour to dance at his shows. At one point, Jackson allegedly tried to convince Robson’s mother to let Robson leave his family and let Jackson keep him.

While both men go into extreme detail with stories that are very consistent with one another, the main controversy that will keep their stories from being credible is the fact that both Safechuck and Robson testified that Jackson was innocent during his first criminal trial. Both of their testimonies in the film, however, portray Jackson as a serial predator who most likely had other victims.

Overall, this film could change the overall perception of Jackson and his legacy to the world. The estate of Michael Jackson is reportedly suing HBO over $100 million dollars for many reasons. One of them is that director Dan Reed never reached out to the estate for a comment for the film.

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