I first watched Kevin Macdonald’s Marley in Bath during its 2012 release. Watching a film about a true Rasta, in the city where Haile Selassie exiled (and watched newsreels of Ethiopia in the very cinema I was watching the doc in) was a somewhat spiritual experience.
Now, with a rewatch, the afterburn of the film has left a different sensation.
Marley is an extensive look into the life of legendary Bob Marley, with insightful interviews with family members, band mates and colleagues. As Marley’s career was so politically and socially infused, we not only get a life analysis, but also context to troubles in Jamaica and beyond.
There’s no doubt this film has been made with love, focusing on the positives of Marley, his amazing achievements both politically and musically. There is a distinct lack of musical and studio process, which is a bit of a shame as it was a revolutionary time for Reggae music.
It did however encapsulate the legacy of Marley, his spiritual leadership and mission. It was sometimes a bit tonally askew, especially surrounding the topics of Marley’s womanising and domineering behaviour in the middle section of the film. One moment Marley is a peaceful being, the next he is a rule implementing misogynist, then back again, which at times leaves you feeling torn. Yet it is brave for Macdonald to have gone so deep into Marley’s character and to show Marley in every light.
There is a bitterness to the rewatch, however, especially when watching the end credits with people from lots of countries singing Marley’s songs, as the unity and peace that he strove so hard for through his music still hasn’t come to fruition in society. It is also evident that no one like Marley has entered the music industry since.
A must-see documentary for Bob Marley fans, but also fans of politics and making change!
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