Marley (2012)

Documentary, Biography, Music
Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Lee 'Scratch' Perry
A documentary on the life, music, and legacy of Bob Marley.
Kevin Macdonald's exhaustive, evenhanded portrait of Bob Marley offers electrifying concert footage and fascinating insights into reggae's greatest star.
  • Magnolia Pictures Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 20 Apr 2012 Released:
  • 07 Aug 2012 DVD Release:
  • $1.4M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Tuff Gong the Lion5/10
I was expecting to see the same bits of footage, images, interviews etc. that I've seen before but this doc reveals lots more. We learn how his early formative years as a dual heritage child growing up in rural JA gave him a unique philosophical view in which to form his own ideas of who he was and what his destiny was to be.

The film also has the luxury of 144 mins to illuminate the genius that Bob was. I got to appreciate how influential and messianic he became within his immediate circle, his community and his nation. His ambition, drive and competitiveness were an integral part of his make-up and became central to his mission to preach love, Rastafari and unity. Any resistance to this would be casually side-stepped.

Whilst not a saint his soul crackled with energy and shone bright, perhaps too bright for the physical being that contained it and which sadly gave out at only 36. But the legacy lives on in the music, the voice of a struggling people, and we should listen as well as dance.

Peace, love and blessings.
Let's Get Together8/10
Greetings again from the darkness. Kevin Macdonald is one of those rare directors who has had commercial success with both documentary and mainstream films. His Last King of Scotland featured a powerful performance from Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, and in Touching the Void, he chronicled a perilous mountain climbing trip in the Andes. Here, he takes on the fascinating life of musician and humanitarian, Bob Marley.

This extraordinary film features some wonderful never before seen video and still photography, as well as some very insightful interviews from friends, family, bandmates, and others who were present during that time. We see the poverty stricken area of Jamaica where Marley was born to his mother (a local teenager) and his father, a 60-something white man who evidently worked for the forest department.

It's truly fascinating to watch Marley's development as a musician and human being. With little education, he relied on stunning life instincts and rose to be the most important Jamaican figure in a time of intense discourse. His personality was one that brought people together, and his music complimented his beliefs and encouraged a unified country and world. While he survived an assassination attempt, he was unable to beat cancer. His death at the young age of 36, leaves us asking ... what could have been? Watching his Wailers begin by playing for free in small clubs and building to worldwide tours in huge stadiums shows just how much influence he had with his words, music and actions. He was admired globally and revered in Jamaica. So often biographies and documentaries treat their subject as either a saint or villain. Here, we get the descriptions from Marley's own voice, as well as the voices of his wife Rita, his children (including Ziggy), his girlfriends (including Cindy Breakspeare who was Miss World). We learn he had 11 kids with multiple women. We learn he wasn't the warmest father to his kids. We learn he was courageous and insightful, and always willing to listen to both sides of an argument.

For most, being an influential musician would be enough. For Bob Marley, it was just the key to the door ... his vision was for a peaceful world where we could all "get together and feel alright". You will notice I have yet to mention marijuana. Marley's face has become a symbol for Jamaica's key export, and that's a shame ... more need to know what this man was all about.
One love. One doc'...8/10
Usain Bolt and bobsleighs aside, when someone mentions Jamaica, you think of either Reggae, Rhastas or weed. In other words, you think of Bob Marley. The undisputed paragon of everything we associate with that "laid-back" corner of the Caribbean. But Bob was a little more than a nonchalant stoner who sung a few tunes, you know. As far as singer/songwriters go, they don't come much bigger than Bob Marley. His and The Wailers' universal songs of love, peace and hope rank amidst some of the finest and most recognizable ever given up to music. There are even those who would liken Bob to Ghandi. A bit O.T.T, sure, but the comparisons are there (sort of): an immortal advocate of peace and altruism; a liberal; a national treasure. And yet Bob Marley was not without fault and, 'till now, a fair share of unworthy documentaries.

Kevin Macdonald's (The Last King of Scotland) bio' doc' about Bob's life and legacy is a stylish and honest mediation on the man behind the myth that charts his physical and spiritual journey through the music world; his quest for success that would transform him from the rejected frontman of a budding ska band to the iconic, liberating arbitrator whose timeless tunes went beyond music and unified colours, creeds and a country in meltdown.

Made with the full cooperation of Bob's family and friends and told largely through their accounts, Marley is a potent and essential piece of documentary film-making. Kevin Macdonald's Bob doc' could've made the man out to be some kind of saint. But it doesn't. Macdonald's various interviews with those who knew Bob best in addition to a heap of archival stills and footage paint the pop-icon in a variety of ways; conflicted, poised, selfish, kind, wanton, loyal, driven, stubborn, free. Marley lays bare the heart and soul of the dreadlocked Rhasta in some style.

A distinct level of cohesion and humanity is well and truly found in the director's attention to detail regarding Bob's estranged personal life; from his impoverished roots and search for acceptance to his self-serving, self-sacrificing ways and stirring date with cancer.

Despite a muddled and stuttered opening, Marley boasts an absolving and deeply moving final third that ties the hefty, 146 minute bio doc' up in style (cheesy ending credits aside).

This is a fresh and thoughtful trip through the life of a music legend with scope and soul in spades; an intriguing and chic fusion of art, music and history. Marley is the quintessential portrait of Bob Marley's life. See it.
enlightening9/10
I am amazed at the amount of information not publicly known about an icon such as Bob Marley. This movie goes into great (and previously unmentioned) detail regarding his life, his family, his music and his untimely death. The interviews with his wife, his girlfriends, his children, band mates, etc. tell much of the story that we never were privy to prior. While it is more than two hours in length, you will soon realize it takes every bit of this and then some to detail the life of someone who unfortunately only lived to the age of 36. There are recoding sessions, interviews with Marley himself and footage of his many tours and concerts. This documentary will convert anyone yet understanding how important Robert Nesta Marley was to world music and world politics. I highly recommend it.
Great man, great documentary8/10
Marley is a 2012 Documentary film that tells the story of legendary Jamaican reggae artist Bob Marley. The film charts his life from his humble beginnings in a small country village without electricity, through his rise to fame in Jamaica, to his exile in London, subsequent return to his Island of birth and eventual death at the age of just 36.

Before going in to the cinema I wouldn't have classed myself as a Bob Marley fan and although I have a couple of his albums and love his best known songs I knew very little about him. The film gives an honest account of his life and of Marley as a man. The story is told using achieve interviews with Marley himself but mostly through interviews with his friends, family and ex colleagues who are still living. Some of the interviewees are great characters and speak with wisdom. Others are hilarious and most have a fantastic Jamaican Patois which is delightful to listen to. The film also gives some background to Rastafarianism, something else that I knew little about.

The whole film is backed with over sixty Marley and Bob Marley and the Wailers songs which start with the song he first recorded aged sixteen and ends with One Love. This film has one of the greatest soundtracks of any film I've seen. The highlight for me was Marley's triumphant return to Jamaica for the One Love Peace Concert in 1978. After years living in London following an attempt on his life, Marley returned to Jamaica and performed in front of 32,000 people and bought the leaders of Jamaica's warring Political Parties up on stage where he managed to get them to hold hands above their heads in a sign of peace. It was an amazing thing to witness, even in the cinema and its impact was obvious.

The final quarter of the film takes on a deceivingly sadder tone as we reach the final years of Marley's life. After a battle with cancer he died in 1981 in Miami, USA. There were many people crying in the theatre, including my girlfriend after a very sad few moments on screen. The film ends on a positive note though by showing how Marley's music and message is still being used to educate and unite people today.

The film shows Marley to be both a great musician and great man but isn't afraid to look at his less impressive traits. His womanising is mentioned on several occasions, as is his poor parenting. His willingness to do anything to make it is also a constant theme. He was willing to change his style as well as drop his friends in order to become better known or appreciated and the film doesn't shy away from letting this be known. A thread I'd like to have seen explored further was his lack of success with black audiences outside of Jamaica. It was hinted at several times but is an interesting area which could have been looked at further.

Marley is a fantastic biopic documentary which sheds light on one of the world's best loved musicians. It isn't afraid to show both his good and bad sides and does a good job of illustrating his life from start to finish. It is accompanied by a soundtrack that head my head bobbing and feet tapping throughout and made me want to go out and further explore his back catalogue as well as his message of One Love.

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