Very seldom are we blessed with the presence of a musical prophet. Surely the aforementioned line is reminiscent of an oft-quoted lyric from the reggae megastar himself “how long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?” Marley the definitive documentary directed by Kevin Macdonald is a bittersweet reminder of elements that are missing in musicians today. Bob Marley was quality infused with compassion and the burning desire to raise awareness towards societal issues. His goal was set on the advancement of humanity. “My life is only important if [I] can help plenty [of] people,” Marley once said.
Marley’s euphonious sound, gallant efforts and rebellious personality are all present through the revived footage and photographs in the film. Finally Marley lovers can feast off of a documentary that accurately showcases the reggae megastar in a brilliant way—on and off the world stage. The film delivers. Essentially giving us the ubiquitous man behind the music who cared more about people than himself.
In 1980, during his last performance in Pittsburgh while Marley was in excruciating pain from complications with his health, he still preformed like a warrior. Consider 1976, when he was shot in the chest by a politically motivated shooting—just two days later, Marley still performed…like a warrior. Or when police used tear gas at his Zimbabwe concert to control a crowd while most ran, Marley did not. He stood there and continued to perform….like a warrior. Simply put, Marley was content with dying with his people while doing what he loved—healing the world through his music.
The 2 ½ hour film will leave you addicted to that melodious Jamaican accent that Marley, his children and close friends possess. They candidly tell his story including his widow Rita Marley and longtime girlfriend Cindy Breakspeare. Clouds of sadness won’t come over you until Macdonald begins to document Marley’s health issues. It almost becomes painful to watch when Marley is sent home with just three more weeks left to live. Eventually due to cancer Marley loses what he labeled his “identity,” the long dookie dreads. Silent weeps could be heard in the theater as the movie credits rolled.
Despite the loss of Marley in May of 1981 he still remains one of music’s most celebrated musicians of all time. In fact, Rolling Stone placed him at number 19 on their 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list “he sang about heavy ideas, and he put them out there so delicately and so lightly….he was the voice of oppressed people all over the world,” says Rolling Stone.
Marley is now in select theaters and available for streaming on Facebook for a 48 hour rental.
Lathleen is a freelance writer based in New York City, follow her on twitter @Lathleen