EW Movie Review: "Marley"
A new documentary hitting theaters this week remembers the life and music of Bob Marley. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly magazine filed the following review.
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Though I own a few of his albums and have seen countless clips of him over the years on music television, I've always felt that I didn't know a lot (didn't know enough) about Bob Marley, the prancing, high-cheekboned prince of the reggae revolution.
When I saw "Marley," a deeply entrancing new documentary, I learned just how much I didn't know. Like the fact that Marley, born in 1945 in a tin-hut village with no electricity, was the child of an 18-year-old Jamaican woman and a 50-year-old white captain in the British Royal Marines. Or that the Wailers' first single -- a very catchy ska ditty -- came out all the way back in 1964, when their role models were the Temptations. Or that Marley, in his fusion of one-world utopianism and pop-star ego, sexual voraciousness and political fearlessness, was a figure of such majestic contradiction as to rival John Lennon.
"Marley" has some great performance clips, as well as fascinating and intimate footage of Bob Marley off stage. The movie was directed by the gifted Kevin Macdonald, who made "The Last King of Scotland." He shows off his chops not by doing anything dazzling -- the film is documentary prose rather than poetry -- but by treating Marley as a man of depth and nuance of inner light and shadow.
His rise to the world stage, percolating up from the inside-out rhythms of reggae, is one of the enthralling star sagas of the ‘70s. His death in 1981, from a cancer that went untreated far too long, ends the film on a haunted note of what might have been.