MARLEY The Movie - Premieres On Demand On 4/20April 20, 2012
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: MARLEY (Magnolia).
Bob Marley, The Third World’s Reggae Superstar…..
By Cynthia Kane
Why has it taken so long to bring a documentary on Bob Marley to the world?!
In 2008, Martin Scorsese was pegged for this project to be released for the anniversary of what would have been Marley’s 65th birthday, and it just didn’t happen. The project then went to Jonathan Demme, who in the end dropped out due to creative difference. Premiering at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, it may have taken a long time and we may have missed that 2010 anniversary year, but Oscar winning director Kevin MacDonald’s bio-doc, MARLEY is worth the wait, particularly for younger generations who only know the iconic spirit, smile and dreadlocks.
Yet even for the rest of us,
die-hard and not so die-hard fans,
MARLEY is a must.
A bio-pic in pure form – taking us from birth to untimely death – but perhaps to be more precise, this film feels like a kind of love song to Marley, yet keeps him human. A mix of talking heads, archival footage intermixed with audio voiceover and musical performance, Kevin Macdonald doesn't experiment with the genre so much as he gives us a straightforward, no nonsense version of Marley’s life, and he does it extremely well. Thus it is as accessible as it is entertaining.
Here we have the story of a man, a musician, who no matter that he was enormously talented became world-famous despite incredible odds. Part of the winning-ness of this story is that Marley was just so appealing.
Why do we like Marley so much?
From his impoverished youth as an ostracized mixed-race child (he referred to himself as half-caste) born in Nine Mile in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, to his status as a leading figure of popular Jamaican music, Bob Marley is seen as a shy yet complicated man with an innate lust for life as well as music. He loved women incessantly as well, and one thing this documentary does not do is pretend he was progressive or pro-feminist. Yet… we like him all the same.
From 1963 until his untimely death in 1981, Bob Marley and the Wailers (reggae, ska, rocksteady) was heavily influenced by the social issues of his homeland, and he is considered to have given voice to the those without; he was the revolutionary musical son of Jamaica.
Marley’s music crossed borders, race and religion, even while he himself became a symbol for these very things that were connected to him — Jamaica, being half black/half white, and Rastafarianism, whose culture has been deeply entwined in reggae.
Then death at such at the young age of 36 of malignant melanoma has made him a global icon. Via posters and tee-shorts, we know his face as we know Jesus’, Che’s, Mao’s, John Lennon’s; now through this remarkable film, we can get to know the man, his music and his life.
MARLEY is also a musical journey, explaining the development of reggae and the culture it created. The lyrics in the songs add to the tale and are explained, analyzed, played back to family and friends to gather reactions of new-found and fresh perspectives. The Marley family very much supported the making of this film – Ziggy Marley is an executive producer – and it’s to their credit that our subject does not come off as saintly or perfect, but as a fairly fleshed-out human being, flawed even if extraordinary.
Ziggy Marley / MARLEY (Magnolia)
Kevin MacDonald has made some terrific fiction films, including THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND and STATE OF PLAY, and TOUCHING THE VOID was a dynamic hybrid-documentary released through IFC Films in 2003 (now on Netlfix.) LIFE IN A DAY (www.youtube.com/user/lifeinaday ) was MacDonald’s venture in to digital filmmaking experiencing life around the world in a single day.
MARLEY proves once again he can straddle
the non-fiction/fiction fence equally.
Kevin McDonlad / MARLEY (Magnolia)
The compilation album, Legend, released 3 years after Bob Marley’s death, if you don’t already own it, might be the next on your list after seeing MARLEY.
Premieres 4/20 day and date in cinemas and On Demand - you won’t want to miss it.
- Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.
MARLEY (Magnolia) can be found under your cable system's On Demand section.
Read Other Reviews By Cynthia Kane:
FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD - DEMAND IT
BLACK BUTTERFLIES - DEMAND IT
ALBAGTROSS - DEMAND IT
HOUSE OF PLEASURES - DEMAND IT
QUEEN TO PLAY - DEMAND IT
VIPS - RISK IT
Thomas Vinterberg's SUBMARINO - DEMAND IT
Michelle Williams In MEEK'S CUTOFF - DEMAND IT
Vincent Gallo Is Back With ESSENTIAL KILLING - DEMAND IT
Tags:magnolia pictures, martin scorsese, jonathan demme, the last king of scotland, tuff gong pictures, jamaica, state of play, ziggy marley, jimmy cliff, steven bing, rastafarian, sxsw film festival 2012, bunny wailer, reggae, kevin macdonald, cedella marley, rita marley, legends, the wailers, cowboy films,