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.