The trailer for the new Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me, has been released and it's more than a little uncomfortable to watch.
Scenes of allegations of sexual abuse against children emerge, detailing interviews with two men; Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim to have been sexually assaulted by the King of Pop as kids.
Leaving Neverland will air on Channel 4 from March 6, and is an exhausting four hours long series of footage and testimony.
In the trailer, which is 40 seconds long, Wade says of Michael Jackson;
"He said, “Do you and the family want to come to Neverland?” ‘He was one of the kindest people I knew and he also sexually abused me. I was seven-years-old."
Wade Robson was seven-years-old at the time, and James Safechuck was 10. Both detail abuse at the hands of Michael Jackson at his Neverland Ranch.
“It’s undeniably a kind of true-life horror movie,” Variety’s review of the documentary read. “You walk out of it shaken, but on some level liberated by its dark exposé… Devastating.”
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the programme is; “Complicated and heartbreaking. It’s doubtful you’ll feel exactly the same after watching.”
“The sheer variety and volume of horrifying disclosures made here… make Leaving Neverland both riveting and grueling, impossible to turn away from and the definition of a tough sit.”The Los Angeles Times wrote.
The first trailer was released this morning ahead of its launch on HBO in the US and Channel 4 in the UK on March 6, and the documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
The interviews with the now adult Robson and Safechuck and their mothers as they try to process their trauma are incredibly powerful. Robson’s mother especially struggles to deal with just how complicit she was in the alleged abuse.
“Secrets will eat you up, you feel so alone,” Safechuck says at one point.
“Jackson told me, if they ever found out what they were doing he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives,” Robson says. “I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long.”
The Dan Reed-directed two part docu-series has been plagued with controversy since January, when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Jackson estate has slammed the documentary, disavowing the claims;
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” a statement from the estate read.
“This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
Jackson’s brother Jermaine added: “Just leave us alone, leave him alone, let him rest, please. He deserves to rest.”
The filmmakers of Leaving Neverland have responded to the criticism of their work by stressing how vital it is to listen to survivors of abuse;
In a statement, director Dan Reed said: “If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to. It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories and I have no question about their validity."
"I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets.”
Speaking to Variety, Dan Reed added that the documentary is not about Jackson;. “This is not a movie about Michael Jackson abusing little boys,” Reed said.
“It’s a movie about two families and how two families came to terms with what their sons revealed to them many years after Jackson died.”
Jackson had always vehemently denied any allegations of abuse. Legal proceedings were brought against him in 2005, but Jackson was acquitted on all counts of child molestation, child intoxication and conspiracy to kidnap a child.
Feature image: rttnews.com