Marley Movie Review: Docupic About Much More Than The Man
Hollywood, all is forgiven. It’s been nearly two weeks since I lamented the usual Tinseltown drivel while offering a preview of the new Bob Marley movie. I’ve seen it a couple times since then and can say without reservation that it’s among the finest cinematic works I’ve seen in a long, long time.
I had a sense that Marley would be good, of course, judging from its many positive reviews. The movie trailer was very cool too. Honestly, though, I wasn’t prepared for just how much the film would exceed my expectations.
The Bob Marley You Don’t Know
I’ve read numerous books and magazine articles about Marley’s life. I’ve visited 56 Hope Road. My music collection is jammed with much of his music. I always flock to movies and documentaries about him.
In short, I’m a big Bob Marley fan and feel that I’ve known a lot about him for quite some time.
This movie showed me that I still had a lot to learn.
I mean, who knew that Marley still had white relatives around? I sure didn’t. Watching them listening to “Corner Stone,” and, for the first time, effectively understanding the power of the lyrics as they directly related to the family’s rejection of Bob back in the day was moving in a way that I totally didn’t expect.
Or how about the subtle jabs at Chris Blackwell from Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer? Blackwell is a producer on the film, yet the old riffs between he and the other two members of the original Wailers trio that eventually led to their break-up and the birth of the Bob Marley and the Wailers group most of us know, are front and center in the Marley movie.
The emotions were quite obviously still raw for Wailer, who was interviewed for the film prior to his passing in 2021.
A recording of a much earlier interview with Tosh also leaves no doubt as to the deep conflict of the time. Tosh even refers to the legendary founder of Island Records as Chris Whitewell!
Beyond music, the Marley movie also delves into a broad range of other, often difficult, facets of Bob’s life.
Cedella Marley’s pain at never having a close relationship with her father. Marley’s endless womanizing and its effect on his wife. The assassination attempt at his home in Kingston. Exile in Europe.
All of the major events in Marley’s life are covered in the film as never before.
Marley Movie: A Tribute to all Jamaican Music
What struck me the most, though, is the way Marley traces the history of Jamaican music through Bob’s rise to fame, which corresponded with Jamaica’s unsteady transition to independence. From mento to ska to rock steady and finally reggae, the film paints a vivid picture of the rise of one of the world’s most beloved music genres from Jamaica’s small corner of the Caribbean.
It also shows concretely the actual origin of the signature guitar riff that defines reggae music! Learning how the foundation of reggae was actually birthed by accident is one of my favorite parts of the film.
Just writing about it now has me anxious to see Marley again… I hope you feel the same way too.
By the way, the image above comes to us courtesy of Irish photographer Eddie Mallin (aka: Monosnaps on Flickr). Eddie was lucky enough to catch a Bob Marley concert in Dublin in 1980. The tour turned out to be Bob’s last. Like the Marley movie, Eddie’s fantastic images are definitely worth a look for all Marley fans…