Movie Review: “Marley”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Courtesy Cowboy Films)

Summary: Directed by Kevin Macdonald and co–executive produced by Ziggy Marley, the long-awaited doc reveals the journey of the late, great Bob Marley.

Review: Born in 1945, Robert Nesta Marley’s music changed the world.  His music has been the anthem for love, revolution and peace.  Over thirty years since his death, he is still a relevant artist with countless musicians from R&B to rock who attempt to emulate the legendary rasta. There have been many stories told about the “One Love” icon, but none with the backing of the Marley family and zero with the emotion, fever and soul of Kevin Macdonald’s Marley.

In select theaters today, Marley will go down in cinematic history as one of the greatest music documentaries of all time. Even at a whopping two hour and 24 minute running time, Bob’s story is exquisitely delivered with not one unnecessary frame.  The polished narrative takes us to Marley’s Kingston, Jamaica roots, where he grappled with racial identity. We see his rise to stardom, making reggae music a household name. But he was never hungry for fame, he was passionate for progress.  Sadly, we learn of his final days fighting cancer. With unseen archival footage and interviews with his family and close associates (even the wife of the doctor who tried to cure Bob Marley of cancer), there isn’t a stone unturned.

Most importantly, Marley smoothly humanizes the “No Woman, No Cry” singer-songwriter. Yes, he was gifted, but he was not perfect.  Bob was a “rolling stone” with 11 children with seven different women.  Although Bob was married to Rita Marley, in his mind he didn’t believe in marriage. Macdonald tastefully tells the side of the other women in Marley’s life, never sensationalizing the story, but answering all of the whys.

Other details discussed include: the assassination attempt on his life, his love for marijuana, his frenetic musical process and his other-worldly live performances. Even if you are not a fan of Bob Marley, the triumph in Macdonald and the Marley family’s storytelling skills trumps fandom.

When Bob Marley was alive, he was frustrated that Black American audiences did not embrace him. However, in an odd way, Bob Marley’s hopes of one love have come to fruition via his music. Bob Marley and the Wailers are not white, Black, Asian or Latino music; nor is the music solely for the poor or rich, Democrat or Republican. Bob Marley is music for the soul, regardless of your background, a universal sound that the globe has embraced.  Although he died of cancer at 36-years-old in 1981, there will never be a time when Bob Marley is an afterthought.

Hats off to Kevin Macdonald and the Marley family for properly, respectfully and finally telling the story of a worldwide icon. Marley is worth the wait and the first must-see movie of 2012.

Marley is in theaters today.

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