Kevin McDonald’s newest documentary opens with the famous line, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” The film then goes on to show just how true that statement is.
“Marley” is, of course, centered around the life of Bob Marley, the famous Jamaican singer whose image can be found in just about any college student’s dorm room.
However, this film calls out every Bob Marley “fan,” and asks: how much do you actually know about the man?
The answer is: not as much as you think you do.
“Marley” reveals in bits and pieces the complicated, introspective person behind the reggae hit-maker.
Beginning in his childhood home in Nine Mile, Jamaica, and ending in Miami, Fla., the documentary takes the audience through each part of his life, from birth to death. The result is a fascinating study of the man behind the urban legends.
McDonald and the extensive list of people he interviewed don’t deconstruct the mystery surrounding Marley, but rather politely delves into his personal life with humor and respect.
Everyone from Marley’s schoolteacher in Nine Mile, to his producer, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and his wife, Rita Marley. All of these people have charming, heartwarming stories to tell about the singer, and none of them are any less interesting than the last.
The documentary is striking in general, but something that stands out is the absence of true criticism of the singer.
No one in this film has anything genuinely bad to say about Marley. This film shows you exactly why, because from his days living in the Trenchtown ghetto to his famous open house in Kingston, Marley practiced what he preached: love, peace and understanding.
The film spends a fair amount of time focused on Marley’s work in Jamaica and in Africa as a peacekeeper and a liaison between politicians and everyday people. This is easily one of the highlights of the movie, as it is composed of mostly rare, unreleased footage of the Africa tour.
The two-and-a-half-hour long documentary is filled with heartwarming stories of Marley with his family, friends and fans. The singer had a genuine love for people, which is evident in the interactions he has with reporters, kids in the street and everyday people caught on camera.
The soundtrack to the film is all Marley songs, with a few unreleased tracks for the serious fans. The music blends perfectly with the island scenery, and it’s easy to see why the genre originated in the islands.
The singer was also incredibly witty, as shown through the many interview clips included in the movie. All of his friends and family members that were interviewed have such a wonderful sense of humor that it makes the film a joy to watch.
“Marley” for anyone who loves the singer, the music or even just well-made documentaries is a great movie. The love he felt for all of his fellow human beings is so evident in the film, you can’t help but leave the theater feeling a little bit lighter inside.