Long before he passed away in his sleep at his home in Oxfordshire, England on Christmas Day last year, a journalist asked George Michael how he would like to be remembered. “Do you mean what I would like to see written on my grave?” Replied the star. “Great composer. And I hope people think of me as someone who had some kind of integrity. I hope to be remembered like that. Very unlikely. I think everything has been a waste of time ”, he sentenced.
In September 2016, the British channel Channel 4 announced an “intimate” documentary with unprecedented access to the life and archive of George Michael, narrated by the artist himself. Three months later, Michael was leaving at 53. The film, on which he had been working delivered until 48 hours before his death, was unfinished. But David Austin, co-director of the film along with Michael himself, of whom he was the manager and close friend, has ended it respecting the artist’s montage and allowing himself some small license, such as the inclusion of the aforementioned interview piece.
Trailer for ‘George Michael: Freedom’.
The documentary, titled Freedom, premieres this Monday on Channel 4, surrounded by enormous expectation. In Spain it can be seen on Saturday 21 at Movistar Estrenos. It is, according to the reviews that have appeared these days in the British press, the story of an unusual human journey. From world fame, to which he was catapulted in adolescence with the duo Wham !, to isolation and seclusion. A man surpassed by fame and in need of human contact. “I can’t really explain how overwhelming that kind of hysteria can be when there is only one person to absorb it,” explains Michael himself in the film, as he collects. The Daily Telegraph. The film spares no frankness to portray the whirlwind that Michael went through in the 1990s, which he himself describes as “the darkest and most terrifying period” of his life.
Wembley Stadium, London, April 20, 1992. George Michael is on stage, wrapped in by the surviving Queen musicians. Sing an unforgettable Somebody to Love. It was a tribute concert to Freddy Mercury, who died of AIDS a year earlier. But it wasn’t him Michael was singing to. Nor to the 80,000 people who made up the audience. He sang only to one of them: the Brazilian Anselmo Feleppa, his partner, terminally ill. “It is no coincidence that what is probably the best-known performance of my career was sung to my lover, who was dying,” says Michael in the documentary. He lost Feleppa in 1993. The star still hid his homosexuality from the public. His mother passed away four years later. “It was a constant fear of death, of the next loss,” he says.
Queen & George Michael: ‘Somebody to Love’ (The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert).
What pushed the film in such an intimate direction, Austin explains, was the discovery of a box full of home movies. The footage corresponds mainly to the beginning of Michael’s relationship with Feleppa. They met at the Rock in Rio festival in 1991 and the Brazilian was already showing signs of the disease that would end his life just over a year later.
The illness of his partner explains, according to the artist himself, the disastrous legal battle in which he embarked in those years with Sony for the promotion of his second album. “I will never know if I would have ended up in court if Anselmo had not gotten sick,” acknowledges Michael. “I was completely terrified of losing him, and the prospect of seeing him die of AIDS. I did everything I could to get rid of that anger and fear. “
The film traces Michael’s career through his solo albums. That immortal debut, Faith, that in 1987 he added to the Olympus where Michael Jackson, Madonna or Prince resided. An incompatible status, the artist acknowledges, with his own homey and withdrawn character. That Listen Without Prejudice (1990) who represented the flight from all that. Y Older, in 1996, what Michael considers his “great moment”, his return after the death of the love of his life. “There is not a single song that is not about Anselmo, about the risk of AIDS,” he explains.
The film includes interviews with many of George Michael’s famous admirers, from Elton John to Stevie Wonder, including supermodels Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell, and even the ineffable Liam Gallagher, who refers to Michael as “a modern Elvis.” . For those and other fans, the premiere of the documentary has brought another revelation unrelated to the film’s footage. In the first screening of the tape, Austin revealed that there is new music by George Michael unreleased. “Two songs, in particular, that are simply extraordinary pieces of music,” Austin said, according to The Daily Telegraph. It is therefore possible that Freedom not strictly the epitaph of George Michael.