Dir. Kevin Macdonald, US/UK, 2012, 144 mins, documentary
Review by Carlie Newman
Kevin Macdonald’s exploration of Bob Marley gives a very clear view of Marley as a singer, political activist and representative of his beloved Jamaica, In fact the visual images of the island in Marley are so impressive that I want to buy my ticket now!
Director Macdonald uses some excellent archive material which not only shows Marley singing, but also with his long-term wife Rita, who also worked as his backing singer, and members of his group, The Wailers. Macdonald is keen to get across the enormous impact that Marley had on the whole world and how he remains a legend some 31 years after his death. With extensive interviews with Marley’s wife, children, “baby mother” and other girlfriends, friends and musical colleagues, Macdonald is able, to a large extent, to show us what made Bob the legend he is. We see how he gradually became successful, always putting his music first and caring little for wealth.
Even when he went to America, he returned to Jamaica, “for more freedom.” When he became rich, he had queues of people outside his home each day waiting for handouts and he gave to all. We are shown how Marley was affected by having a white father and being put in the position of a “half-caste”.
Marley fathered 11 children by seven different partners and was a religious man. He had a concern for peace and worked to bring for a non-violent ending to the conflicts in his country. At one point he brought the two opposing political leaders together on stage and got them to join hands. He was really very modest – at one time agreeing to be the backing act for the Communards although he was the bigger star. It was a sad day not only for his own people but for music lovers everywhere when he died of cancer at only 36.
Music, speech and pictures are well-blended in the film. Although the film is very long, it is well-filmed, with some great archive footage, truly absorbing and gives us a fascinating study of a music legend.
- Ziggy and Robbie Marley Talk About the Documentary MARLEY, Memories of Their Dad, and His Legacy (collider.com)
- Bob Marley: So much things to say… (repeatingislands.com)
- Kevin Macdonald Brings A Legend To Life With “Marley” (fastcocreate.com)