Marley Film Review
Following the success of his Box Office hit, The Last King of Scotland, a significant but favourable deviation from his stable creative roots in documentary-making, Kevin MacDonald offers an insightful contribution to the renowned career of legendary Reggae icon, Robert ‘Bob’ Marley.
‘Marley’, a two-hour long production which begins with a cultural exploration of the slavery movement, beginning its journey from the Gold Coast to the rural tropics of a then free-flowing Jamaica. MacDonald cleverly combines a colourful array of memories by displaying intimate, never-before-seen footage and photographic evidence of some of the most pinnacle moments of Marley’s career.
Viewers are left with an extensive overview of Bob’s life - from his unruly and boisterous upbringing in the tropical suburbs of Trench town, Jamaica, to his final helpless pursuit for life in a somewhat contradictory clinically confined setting, in the icy regions of Bavaria after a strenuous battle with cancer.
We are introduced to a young Marley, full of perseverance and determination to succeed in the industry that devalues the very niche he is so desperate to promote. Following several attempts at what he believed would be the final formation of Jamaica’s finest musical export, Marley and his band-mates The Wailers were materialised and went on to succeed with hits such as Simmer down and the controversially composed track Small Axe, during the competitive musical era of 1960.
MacDonald's production offers insight from Marley’s perspective, portraying his life as a hopeful individual leading us into the life he sails through, some eleven children later. We see Marley sharing time with his family, gain access to some of the most challenging situations he was faced with and sing along to the genuine examples of liberation and selflessness he lived for through his music.
With this in mind, we are introduced to the influences that Marley’s music had on political and social movements in Jamaica, and its later contribution towards Rhodesia’s reformation into what is now known as Zimbabwe. This positive melodic infiltration, married together with a strong display of philosophical beliefs, helps form the basis of this moving documentary.
Bob Marley’s music is used as a central point to educate on black lifestyle and culture, and is often talked about on a very surface-scratching level. What this documentary poignantly achieves is the ability to dig deeper, and offer an explanation as to why Marley strived as far as he did with his musical journey. With heavy emphasis being placed on Marley’s religious and political influences, and in turn, the influences that he had on both institutions, it is evident that his sole mission was to encourage people to get up, stand up-stand up for their rights!
Marley is out in cinemas on the 20th of April
Words by: Karen-Grace Siriboe