It has taken some time and a few directors (Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme were appointed before Kevin Macdonald) to make an ambitious documentary about Bob Marley, but the end result is worth it. ‘Marley’ tells the story of the legendary musician from his birth in Nine Mile, a small village in Jamaica, to his death in Miami, when he was just 36. It takes about two hours and a half to tell the story, but the documentary never becomes boring or confusing; on the contrary, director Macdonald offers precise information about Marley’s life, beliefs and music in an amusing way.
The film features interviews with people who got to know him well, like his colleagues at The Wailers or his family, mainly Rita Marley and his daughter Cedella; along with archive footage and images of places that were important in his life, like his home village, Nine Mile, or the Kingston neighborhood where he grew up, Trench Town.
And of course, there is music. The documentary has the official approval of the Marley family and his British producer, Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. In fact, Blackwell himself and Ziggy Marley, son of Bob Marley, co-produce the movie. This ensures that most of the well-known songs are played throughout the documentary, and also a few rare ones. This is done in a tasteful way, though, perfectly intertwining the music with the narration.
In the end, however, it is not exactly a film about the music but about the man and his circumstances. If provides a positive image of Marley but not without shades (his political naivety or the way he behaved with his kids and with women). It comprises lot of information without losing the focus on what is telling, with masterful editing and a well-balance mixture of politics, religion, social issues and music. There might be other means of approaching the figure of Bob Marley, but I doubt they would make a better movie than this one.
No Woman No Cry