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Bob Marley documentary thoroughly examines singer’s life

 

 
Overview
 

Genre:
 
Starring:
 
Directed By:
 
Studio:
 
MPAA Rating:
 
Release Date: April 20, 2012
 
Length: 144 minutes
 
Directing
7.0


 
Plot
6.0


 
Acting
6.0


 
Cinematography
6.0


 
Total Score
6.3
6.3/ 10


 

Whoa


The film provides a complete look at the life of the reggae icon.

No


The film doesn't reveal anything new about the singer's life.


Bottom Line

While the film has a few lulls during his 144-minute running time, its storyline has a natural arc to it, and Macdonald does a terrific job of interviewing a wide cast of people who knew the man.

0
Posted May 14, 2012 by

 
Full Review
 
 

One of music’s most compelling figures, Bob Marley has been the subject of countless biographies. Currently showing at select art house theaters, Marley was initially to be directed by Jonathan Demme (Stop Making Sense) before Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) came on board and replaced him. With cooperation from Marley’s widow Rita Marley, Macdonald had access to some terrific footage that he compiles to tell the story of the reggae icon.

The film begins in a South African city with a history of sending slaves to the West. It then cuts to a scene of Marley performing his anthem “Exodus” in front of an energized audience.  We hear from Mrs. James, Marley’s first teacher and his mother, the latter of which tells us he was a “country boy.” We even see the small shack that Marley called home when he was a child.

Shortly after Jamaica received independence in 1962, a new style of music emerged out of the native sounds of ska and calypso. That sound, as Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, tells us, involved singing on an off beat. Marley and his Wailers quickly emerge as reggae sensations, notching a hit in 1964 with “Simmer Down.”

In 1970, Marley moved to the States and got a job working in an auto factory. He didn’t last long, though, and moved back to Jamaica where he began working with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry. The film even includes some vintage footage of the madcap Perry rocking out in the studio. Perry speaks rather eloquently about Marley and his lasting influence.

In 1973, Blackwell met Marley and his Wailers for the first time and says he found them “impressive’ when they stopped in his office. Blackwell, who says he wanted Marley and the Wailers to be perceived as a “black rock” act, subsequently released Catch a Fire on his Island Records. The film then hits all the major highlights, including a shooting incident in 1978 and Marley’s famous appearance at 1978’s One Love Peace Concert. The singer’s life was cut short and he died fro cancer in 1981 at age 36.

While the film has a few lulls during his 144-minute running time, its storyline has a natural arc to it, and Macdonald does a terrific job of interviewing a wide cast of people who knew the man. Macdonald also expertly mixes the music into the film, concluding with Marley’s “Redemption Song” during the scenes that capture Marley’s final days.


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