Documentary, by Mike Richardson, 02 August 2012

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Stars: Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley and Jimmy Cliff

Country: USA

Runtime: 144 min

Release Date:

Language: English

Director Kevin McDonald (The Last King of Scotland) takes the helm of this tricky biopic of Bob Marley, the man who was the Third World’s first pop superstar and introduced the world to the mysticism and clout of reggae. McDonald is no stranger to documentary filmmaking as he made his name with the nerve shredding Touching the Void, but here there is no frosty horrors or escape from certain death, instead a two hours 25 minutes loveletter encrusted with affection and understanding.

Marley

Marley

Marley begins in West Africa man makes no bones about the fact that Bob Marley was descended from slaves, and neither should it as his heritage was such an intrinsic part of his music. We pick up the story of Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley in the hills of Jamaica’s Saint Anne Parish and follows the young Bob’s life or the way to international stardom and his untimely demise. It would be easy enough to fill a film if you just provided two hours of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ songs, but this documentary does more and encompasses the singer’s religious beliefs, his musical principles, his professional struggles and a love life that could most likely be described as “hectic”.

The music, unsurprisingly, is a constant throughout Marley, but we are also given a real sense of the social issues that influenced his music and the political and cultural milieu of Jamaica. As the film recounts Marley’s journey from the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the international music scene.

We also get plenty of anecdotes about Bob and the development of his new kind of music that fused local and international forms into their distinctive formula of reggae, up until Marley’s premature death in Miami in 1981 at the far too young age of 36.

This is an example of how a documentary/biopic should be made, one of the film’s producers is Ziggy Marley one of Bob’s sons (Bob Marley fathered 11 children from seven different women (at least)) and is littered with talking heads of people who have, not only first-hand experience and interaction with the subject, but have an opinion worth listening to.

While it’s true that Marley the film never really gets to the heart of Marley the man that is perhaps because a character like Bob Marley is too huge a personality to be encompassed in a single film.

Even though you may know all of the songs and own plenty of the recordings is worth checking out the soundtrack to Marley as the film’s tracklist is arranged chronologically as it appears on the film, and works as a very apt reminder to the way Bob Marley’s life unfolded.

Marley Trailer

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