“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”
It’s really hard to encapsulate all 36 years of the (arguably) most important musician’s life into a 142 minute film. Somehow, director Kevin McDonald achieved just this with the spellbinding documentary Marley.
Sure, there have been plenty of books and films made about Bob Marley’s life and his time spent with the Wailers. But try to name one: you can’t. There was no definitive almanac or authoritative biopic on Marley’s iconic life–until now.
Marley takes an unprecedented and unhinged look into Bob Marley’s life, from birth to death. By blending in raw live footage, music, sound-bytes, interviews with Marley’s family and closest friends, and home video from Marley’s youth, viewers gain access to all depths of Marley’s genius. The result is a comprehensive, informative, and emotional ride that will either reinforce or spark your love for both Bob Marley’s music and his heart.
While every stoner (and really, everyone alive) is a fan of Bob Marley’s music, many people (particularly ones who were born in the last quarter century) remain unaware of the worldwide, cultural impact Marley had that went well beyond reggae and spliffs. After watching this film, you will come away realizing that Bob Marley was not simply a man or a musician: he was indeed more like a spiritual musical force gracing us with his presence on Earth.
So, *spoiler alert*, here are some of the reasons that this film has caused me to liken Bob Marley to Hercules and what you may not know about Marley that you will know after viewing this film:
- Bob Marley was half white. What? Really. Yep: Marley was, for lack of a better term, a mudblood (the Hermione Granger of Jamaica). He was also made fun of and excluded from activities because he wasn’t a purebred African-American.
- Bob was, however, 110% Rastafarian and modeled his life around the sort of moral code being a Rasta bears with it. And yeah, he smoked a lot of weed, as is the Rasta way.
- Of course weed plays a role in the film (although ancillary). At one point, one of Marley’s friends notes that Bob would “smoke a spliff, play football, and then write a song.” This was his creative process.
- Peter Tosh was one of the original members of the Wailers (as you probably know) and quit because a) he wanted to be more than a backup guitarist/singer and b) he thought the white man was taking advantage of them.
- Bob Marley has 11 children with (around) 4 different partners. Standard logic would dictate that he is a philanderer and a womanizer. That’s not the case. He was a rastafarian who believed that his “One Love” and “One Heart” could be shared with more than one person. And his wife, Rita, totally accepted that.
- Among his conquests, Marley used to schtoop the 1976 Miss World on the reg (when he was in London on a sort of sabbatical).
- Marley and the Wailers went into a self-induced exile after a gunmen shot and maimed Marley and two others.
- When they returned, Marley did something that no other person could ever do: he got to opposing politicians to hold hands on stage as a sort of symbolic peace treaty…it was really freaking emotional.
- If there’s one thing Bob Marley was bad at, it was being a parent. Partially cause he had so many kids (and mistresses) and partially because he was so damn busy, it’s made pretty clear he wasn’t around too much for his seedlings.
- Bob Marley didn’t give two shits about money. He cared about Jah, love, soccer and, of course, ganja.
- If Marley was born in a different time or received proper medical care (or wasn’t against amputation)–he’d probably alive today
- A blind man could enjoy this film. You just can’t really go wrong with anything that features live music from Bob and the Wailers.
Yes, you can probably also glean some of those facts from Wikipedia and get a solid grasp of Marley’s life–his accomplishments, his breadth, and his sexual conquests. But you can’t read Wikipedia (or this review) and come away feeling the impact of Marley’s life. This documentary, more than anything else, will emotionally tie you to Marley, for at least the 2+ hours you spend watching it.
As any biopic about a famous musician tends to do, Marley does, at times, glorify Bob Marley and make him out to be somewhat of a deity. But unlike most iconic artists, this footage proves that Bob Marley actually is somewhat of a deity (albeit one that died a very mortal death).
The validity of this observation and the general key to the film is its scope. Because the film literally interviews almost every person close to Bob (although, where’s Damian?), the views on his life are pretty comprehensive, diverse, and factual. And they all point towards the final conclusion: this is a man with a pure heart, a clean mind that very well deserves to be an iconic symbol of peace, love, and all things Rasta.
So whether you order it On Demand or head to a nearby theatre, make it a point to see Marley. Bob may have died in 1981, but his music, his impact, and his Irie aura will only gain a more mythical status as time passes.