George Michael’s music is featured heavily in the ‘Last Christmas’ movie which opened on November 8, 2019, in the United States starring Emily Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Michelle Yeoh, among others. The film, which is loosely based on George’s music, is directed by Paul Feig.
In a BBC interview, Director Feig explained how George’s music shapes the movie:
“It’s not a musical, but George’s music affects the story. There are a couple of sections where the actors are actually interacting with the music and other sections where George’s music is driving, or underscoring the story. So it’s a nice mix of being neither a jukebox movie nor straight up musical.”
He explained this much deeper in his interview with Empire Online:
George Michael’s music is integral to the movie. The songs are hard-wired in –the movie’s based loosely off the song ‘Last Christmas’. It’s not a musical, it’s not Mamma Mia!, but there are moments within the movie where the characters do interact with George’s music. That music is really important to Emilia’s character, the lyrics mean a lot to her. It weaves in and out, sometimes just being the soundtrack to her life, and other times being something that she is directly interacting with or performing.
CinemaBlend asked Feig how they chose the songs for the movie, and he explained:
It happened and grew organically. Because the movie is based on “Last Christmas”, so you know you’re going to hear that song. There was places in the script where Emma [Thompson] wrote ‘We’re watching the walk around London, it would be really nice to hear a little George.’ So those were there, but it was non-specific. And then the estate of George had us watch this two hour documentary about his life that George had directed for the BBC.
The documentary George Michael: Freedom inspired Feig to put more of Michael’s songs in the movie:
I said wait a minute, I think George needs to be the voice of this movie. And then started doing the deeper dive into the other tracks of his albums that I hadn’t heard before. That’s when I discovered ‘Heal the Pain’ which to me is almost more of the theme song of this movie than ‘Last Christmas’. Because it’s so much about what this character, and what these characters were going through. Trying to heal their pain in whatever way they can. And ‘Praying for Time’ and going ‘Gosh, that’s the song they should have their date at the skating rink to.’ Not some romantic song, but this darker, ominous, but beautiful song about running out of time.
Feig also talked about the importance of the new, unreleased song of George Michael that features in the movie — “This Is How (We Want You to Get High),” recorded in 2015 at London’s Air Studios according to Huffington Post. The posthumous song marks the first song from Michael to be released in seven years, and it was met with celebration and enthusiasm by the fans.
Back in June, he mentioned the new music in an interview, which comes from a new album George was supposedly working on:
Yeah, we’re gonna have one that we have full rights to do, that he recorded right before he passed, very sadly. He was putting an album together and it’s an amazing song, so we have that … I always like George Michael but the appreciation I have for him now knowing his entire body of work, knowing more of his process …
He also called the new track “amazing” and how he is excited that “the world is going to get to hear now.”
And one of our tracks is one of those songs, and it’s just an absolutely amazing song that I’m so excited the world is going to get to hear now.– Last Christmas: Paul Feig on the George Michael-inspired film
The new song figures prominently in the movie played in its entirety. According to Feig in his BBC interview:
“It’s a very celebratory song, I would dare say. And we were able to play the entire song, which is almost six minutes long, in the film. Because when you get a song that has never been heard, you don’t want to just use, like, 15 seconds of it. The song starts at the end of the film, and then goes into the credits.”
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- ‘Last Christmas’ Movie Production Notes
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- Emma Thompson on George Michael and the ‘Last Christmas’ Movie
- George Michael’s Oprah Winfrey Show Interview (2004)