Sunday, June 18, 2017
Marley (2012 film)
Directed by Kevin MacDonald, Marley is a documentary film about the life and career of reggae music legend Bob Marley. Told through archival footage, rare audio and film clips, and new interviews with family, friends, and collaborators. The film explores Marley’s early life as well as his career into becoming an international superstar until his untimely death in 1981 of cancer. The result is an engrossing and lively film from Kevin MacDonald that explores the life one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century.
Bob Marley is an icon in the world of music who would introduce the world to reggae music as he wouldn’t just make it popular but also display characteristics to express the need for social changes as well as giving voice to the oppressed and neglected. From his early years singing as part of a doo-wop group of sorts called the Wailers with Bunny Livingston and the late Peter Tosh that would later become a full-on reggae band until Livingston and Tosh left the group in 1974. Marley’s impact on popular music was immense as he would bring the music of his home country of Jamaica into the attention of the world as well as the idea of Rastafarian to give Africans and Jamaicans an identity of their own.
With interviews from Marley’s widow Rita as well as two of his eleven children in the singers Cedella and Ziggy plus longtime girlfriend Cindy Breakspeare, Bunny Livingston, producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, and fellow reggae artist Jimmy Cliff as well as many others. The film follows a simple narrative of Marley’s early life living in the small town of St. Ann in the Jamaican countryside where he never knew his father who was a white man named Norval Marley who was a government official that was known for sleeping with a lot of Jamaican women as he was from a well-off family. The film would also feature interviews with Marley’s mother Cedella Booker (who would die four years before the film’s release) as well as half-sister of his in Constance who also admits to not knowing much about her father as she is featured in one scene listening to a song called Corner Stone where one of his second cousins is listening to as it relates to the rejection that Marley would have throughout his life as someone related to this white family known as the Marleys as he is related to them.
While Kevin MacDonald does follow the narrative about Marley’s music career that would blossom for much of the 70s and peaking towards the 1980s until his death in May of 1981. Much of the film focuses on aspects of Marley’s personal life as well as his relationship with his family and his notorious womanizing which Rita knew but let it happen as she had so much respect for her husband and his work ethic. She would be with him as she along with many others survived an assassination attempt on Marley in 1976 on the eve before he was to give a free concert during a tumultuous period in Jamaica’s history relating to an election and divisive political standings. It would lead to a brief exile from Jamaica for Marley, his family, and entourage as the film showcases his growing audience all over the world including Africa where he played at an independence concert for Zimbabwe. The film also play into the final months of his life as it reveal what he was trying to fight the cancer he had for years due to an infection in one of his big toes.
Much of MacDonald’s direction in the film is straightforward as he’s aided by cinematographers Mike Eley, Alwin H. Kuchler, and Wally Pfister in shooting much of the interviews as well as some gorgeous shots of the locations in Jamaica as well as places such as a small town in Delaware Marley stayed at in the early 60s and the German resort he would go to in his final months. Editor Dan Glendenning would compile many of the rare concert footage and old video interviews Marley did during his lifetime with sound designer Glenn Freemantle compiling much of the audio including some rare demos and early tracks that Marley did as well as some of the audio interviews. Visual effects supervisor Hayden Jones would do some wonderful work in creating some 3D effects for some of the photos to make it come alive. Music supervisor Liz Gallacher does amazing work with compiling the soundtrack that doesn’t just feature much of the music that Marley did in his lifetime including some rare demos but also in the music that was playing in the early 1960s in Jamaica before Marley’s ascendance into the becoming its cultural icon.
Marley is a phenomenal film from Kevin MacDonald. Not only is it a film that offer some new stories and insights for those familiar with the life and music of Bob Marley but it also offer for those new or not entirely familiar with Marley the chance to hear his music as well as get some ideas about the world of Rastafarian. In the end, Marley is a sensational film from Kevin MacDonald.
© thevoid99 2017