Is "Marley" The Definitive Bob Documentary?
Kevin McDonald's new doc is incredible
I didn't have the highest expectations for the new documentary “Marley” -- not because I'm not a big Bob Marley fan, but because I am a huge fan. Having seen every documentary and read every book on Marley, I didn't think there was anything else to cover.
That said, Kevin McDonald's new documentary is beautifully shot, well put-together, and offers insight through interviews that provide a new picture of Marley, as both a man and as an artist.
The movie is beautiful to see, the new interviews are vibrant and full of color, and the old footage has been restored to look fresh and crisp while still capturing the essence of its time. The music is also great; the soundtrack combines popular Marley songs with more obscure ones, including a rare gospel demo version of “No Woman, No Cry.”
Even a Marley sycophant like myself was able to find some new tidbits of information of his history with anecdotes on how Marley's songs were created, stories of his childhood, his beginnings in music, and the relationships with women and his children.
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Marley's relatives from his white father's side are also interviewed, showing how his relationship with his estranged father provided motivation and inspiration for him. His children, Cedella and Ziggy, provide insight into his personal life and their own childhoods, as well. And friends of Bob, such as artist Nevill Garrick, soccer player Alan "Skilly” Cole, and political badman Tony Welch, paint a picture of Bob as a street-wise disciplinarian with a deep focus on his music and message.
Another great Bob Marley documentary, “Time Will Tell," used old footage and Bob as a narrator to tell his epic tale, and “Rebel Music," another in-depth doc, uses interviews with Bob's contemporaries to tell his story from half-breed ghetto dweller to worldwide sensation. But “Marley” combines both those styles using both present-day footage of Bob's contemporaries, lovers, children and bandmates with previously unseen Bob Marley interviews and performances, including a duet with Stevie Wonder.
One of the best parts of the doc is the footage taken from modern-day Jamaica, which shows the beauty of the land and people, and the tragedy and hardship of poverty. The cinematography is incredible in how it captures both rural and ghetto Jamaica. Despite the fact that the footage was shot 30 years after Bob's death, it is still very much the same Jamaica described in Marley's lyrics.
Kevin McDonald's documentary is great to provide background for the casual Marley fan, but also for the Bob Marley fanatics.
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In theaters and on demand everywhere April 20