Blallywood Film Review: Marley
Robert Nesta Marley was born in small country town called St. Ann in Jamaica to a full-blooded Jamaican woman and white captain tasked with surveying land. Called a half-caste and rejected as a kid, he found his refuge in music and homemade instruments, namely one called a rumba box- a makeshift offspring of a guitar and drum. In a tight-knit community called Trench Town he began to explore music more seriously. Music became his way out. His first cut was in 1962 with Desmond Dekker. A piece called “Judge Not” demonstrated a natural affinity for poetry and musicality. But it was his slow ascent in a reggae group called the Wailers that started establishing him as the icon. We know him as Bob Marley.
Marley (2012) is the definitive documentary on the life of Bob Marley. It opens with breathtaking footage and photos of Bob Marley’s birth town, revealing interviews with members of his family and those closest to him, including his wife Rita Marley. There is an in depth look at his connection to the Rastafarian faith and how it influenced his music and his decision to move to Wilmington, Delaware. The section recounting the Wailers reestablishing themselves in the states is a story of pure and unparalleled determinism. The film is peppered with rare studio footage and Marley’s biggest hits.
Another section of interest includes conversations with his children which lead to an insightful segment on Bob Marley as a person, how he found his inspiration, and how he eventually became a giant of sorts, a source of inspiration for others, garnering a massive following of musical supporters and supporters of his way of life. He was smooth and unconventional, known for going with the wind and demonstrating outward infidelity eventually fathering 11 children with 7 different women.
We go through his tumultuous experience in Jamaica surviving a night raid up through recording Exodus, arguably his most notorious record ending in a touching reminder of the inevitability of time as Marley’s health deteriorated after complications with cancer, dying at age 36.
The reflections presented are heartfelt and honest, all remembering Bob in specific and unique ways, mostly fondly, but not without strong views on his way of life and paternal instincts.
Besides the film being a bit lengthy and lagging in energy at times, it is very interesting. I could have done with less of the long performance sequences. His music is prolific enough that his story should be the highlight. It dances riskily on the cliff of a history lesson but the political discussions remain relevant to the story of Marley’s life.
Check it out on Netflix or www.bobmarley.com. B.