Kevin Macdonald / USA/UK / 2012 / 144 min
There have been many biopics made and tributes paid to Bob Marley, as supporters of the free world cling to the history of a visionary so powerful he had been virtually deified by the time of his death in 1981. Seldom have they been so comprehensive however, so packed with bountiful content as to pay respect to a belief system which defined an era.
Thankfully, Kevin Macdonald leaves behind his recent mediocre features, most notably State of Play and The Last King of Scotland, and embarks on this documentary. Strolling through Marley’s life, from his childhood amid the ramshackle Trench Town in Kingston to his perilous political idealism, Macdonald tries to cover all angles as he interviews friends, family, record producers, band members and all who were ensnared in the Marley journey.
Naturally, a documentary about Marley cannot ignore the music, or indeed the Rasta culture which inspired it, but Macdonald’s effort is delicately poised. It provides substantive, erudite background to each track from the Wailers’ early days to their eventual American breakthrough, much like Esther Anderson and Gian Godoy’s intimate and cherished tribute. And the film is infused with everything we expect from the “character” of Marley: his deeply religious roots, his prophesising of a free, united world, his phoenix-like vitality. But Macdonald doesn’t get completely lost in the idolisation of the Jamaican; he reins it back to comment on Marley’s workaholism, his unbridled misogyny and even a faint but recurring sense of hubris. Yet the film never judges these actions, it simply confirms a sentiment so widely recognised, of how utterly emblematic Marley was of the Jamaican national cause, and indeed of the peace movement itself.
What’s refreshing is that Macdonald’s film is so many things. It’s a window into the soul of Rastafari Reggae, an honest and affectionate biopic, a tale of tragedy caught up in revolution. But perhaps more importantly, it’s a fiery, bracing portrait of a cultural consciousness and the philosophy which directed it.
One Response to “Marley”
Leave a Reply
Anti-Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree