Engrossing Documentary Shows Full Life of Bob Marley
MARLEY (2012) It’s no coincidence that this fabulous documentary on the life and music of Bob Marley was released on “Smoke Out” day—last Friday, April 20. Marley has been memorialized in a haze of marijuana smoke, with his dreadlocks and big smile. Whether you’re a devoted fan or just a casual listener to Marley’s music, I predict you’ll be completely swept away by this documentary which presents the complete story of his short but full life—he died on May 11, 1981 at only 36 from cancer. The film almost didn’t get made—Martin Scorsese was on board to give Marley the same treatment he had given to Bob Dylan in “No Direction Home” (and later to George Harrison in HBO’s “Living in the Material World”) but had to leave the project in 2008 for other commitments. Jonathan Demme was tapped next but according to reports left amid disagreements with various people leaving the whole documentary dead in the water as of August 2009. Finally, and with rights to the music heading toward expiration, Marley’s son Ziggy turned to director Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void) who took over and was given a free hand to blend together the videos and photographs amassed by Marley’s family over many years. Macdonald has combined these with loads of interviews, lots of visuals and plenty of Bob Marley’s fabulous music in the background to create a moving and detailed portrayal of this legendary singer/philosopher. Marley, as we learn, grew up very poor, born to a white father who was 60 and a young Jamaican mother who was only 16. His father certainly never acknowledged him and he was treated as an outcast as a youth because he was bi-racial. Nonetheless, he turned to music early on and was determined to be somebody. The documentary shows us the early formation of the Wailers and their move to create their own label, their rise to fame, the eventual fallout with Peter Tosh and others, and the enormous success they achieved. Also in the film, we learn more about the Rastafarian faith that Marley embraced as a young man and which shaped his music–his spiritual outlook on life and the world. He wanted to make a difference and wow, what a difference he has made. We also learn of his personal life–rich and free wheeling – he had 11 children with 7 different women, all of whom are still loyal to him. I especially loved the closing shots which feature “One Love” and “Stand Up” being sung today all over the world. Fantastic. Don’t miss this one.
BTW: The film is in limited release, but is also available on iTunes and Facebook.