Of course a documentary about Bob Marley would be released on 4/20 and if you don’t get why, this might not be the movie for you. That’s a joke actually — if you have any interest in Bob Marley and his music, the movie “Marley” is definitely worth seeing. From Last King of Scotland director Kevin MacDonald and backed by the Marley family it’s a an engrossing and extensive look at the singer’s too short life.
Using archival footage and a ton of interviews, the film paints a portrait that goes far beyond the pot-smoking reggae musician most people see him as. Born to a black teenage mother and much older white father in Jamaica, Marley grew up not only poor but also as an outcast because of his mixed-race background. But it was clear at an early age, he knew not only how to play music but how to market it — from delivering records around town on a bicycle to sometimes intimidating DJs to make sure The Wailers music got played on Jamaican radio. It is also clear that Marley knew the political power of his music in Jamaica — power that ended up getting him shot in 1976.
But the movie doesn’t just document his rise to fame, it’s an examination of the man behind the myth — warts and all. The fact that he fathered eleven children with seven different women isn’t whitewashed. Both his wife and his longtime girlfriend are interviewed for the movie. His kids speak openly about their father’s competitive nature and the fact that other parents wouldn’t let their kids play with them because their parents were just smoking and playing music all the time. It also tells the story of the last months of Marley’s life — how he kept on performing despite that fact that his body was riddled with cancer, and a final attempt at treatment at a holistic clinic in Germany. The film gives us a full picture of a man who became a legend and left us far too soon.
Marley is playing in select cities around the country, but it is also available On Demand and to stream on Facebook. Coming in at two and a half hours, I’d recommend viewing at home. That way you can pause to go get munchies whenever you need to.