Reggae legend in a clearer light: Marley Film Review

– Danielle Phillips

Kevin Macdonald’s documentary Marley takes a look at the legend that lifted the voice of the Jamaican people into the unity of the reggae beat, Bob Marley. Using interviews from his family, closest friends, collaborators, and mentors, Macdonald methodically delves into the life of Bob Marley giving the audience an intimate view of the inspirational musician while treating us to rare interviews with Marley himself and never before seen performances.

Marley does not depict the life of Bob Marley as a singular entity but also incorporates the political issues that affected Jamaica in Bob Marley’s day, sheds a brief light on the history of slavery, and delves into the religion of Rastafarianism. Although the scope is a monumental one and many of the issues themselves divisive in nature this film never lets the viewers forget Bob Marley’s supreme driving force: love and unity. He was rejected from his community as a “half-cast,” shunned by his white family, and suffered extreme poverty. Music was Bob Marley’s survival and he was determined to make it the resurrection of his people. His lyrics, though rooted in his culture and inspired heavily by his personal experience so embodied the feelings of rejection, struggle, and redemption that he was able to touch not only his nation but ultimately the world.

Macdonald’s depiction of Bob Marley is tender but does not shy from the controversy that surrounded him. Marley’s practice of Rastafarianism was looked down on and became a label he would have to overcome. He was a victim of violence and became imbedded in many ways in the Jamaican political and social strife. We also hear from Bob Marley’s wife and two of his children who speak candidly about his strengths and flaws as a father and husband. Bob Marley was not only a legend, a leader, a visionary, and a talented musician. He was a man.

As a piece of true artistry, this film challenges viewers to consider the way in which Bob Marley’s journey, though rooted in a history of oppression, transcends all boundaries and moves myriads regardless of race, religion, political belief, or social status. One love.


The documentary is now available on DVD and streaming through NetFlix

Reggae legend in a clearer light: Marley Film Review
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