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The definitive story of reggae superstar Bob Marley

After a slightly uncertain period since his Oscar-winning The Last King Of Scotland, which encompassed two holding-pattern features, The Eagle and State Of Play, as well the experimental YouTube film Life In A Day, Kevin Macdonald has returned to his first love – documentary – with this portrait of reggae legend Bob Marley, with extensive input from Marley's family and close associates. What results is an immensely detailed overview of Marley's life, times, and music, from the hillside Jamaican shack where he grew up to the snowy Bavarian clinic where he spent his last weeks in a fruitless attempt to cure the cancer that killed him in 1981, aged 36. Arguably the first third is the most revelatory, with photographs of a heartbreakingly young and clean-cut Marley hacking his way through the Jamaican charts with the first, ska-influenced, incarnation of the Wailers: hits like 'Simmer Down' and their warbling version of 'Teenager In Love', put them on the map in the mid-60s. Macdonald, however, is clearly concerned to offer more than a straight music biography; he grapples at length with Marley's philosophical and religious convictions, as well as his precarious place above the fray of Jamaica's post-colonial political antagonism. The film opens with a sequence inside an African slave embarkation point (dramatically named ‘the door of no return') and returns time and again to the knotted loyalties of Jamaican politics and Marley's attempt – through conversion to Rastafarianism – to convey a global Black Power message in his music. (Though, rather weirdly, one of his musicians claimed not to know that Gabon's president Omar Bongo was a ‘dictator' after they arrived in the country for a concert in 1980. Even after they found out, they still played – though made up for it by headlining Zimbabwe's independence celebrations later that year.) At well over two hours, Macdonald's film packs a lot in; Marley's wife, girlfriends, several of his children, art director, manager and sidemen – all get a showing. But then Marley was a larger-than-life figure, bestriding his era like some denim-clad colossus; he's worth the extra time. – Andrew Pulver, The GuardianOfficial Trailer
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Directed by: 
Kevin Macdonald
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