Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Bob Marley (archive footage), Rita Marley, Ziggy Marley
Some musicians are valued for their impeccable singing and songwriting abilities, while others are honored for defining and reflecting the social injustices of the world. Bob Marley is one of the select talented musicians who are admired for both his music skills and his determination to stand up for those struggling to survive. While the singer-songwriter’s relentless efforts to change politics is still apparent in culture, almost 31 years after his death, little is known about his personal life. His upbringing and personal relationships are well-balanced with the powerful messages he brought around the world in the biographical documentary.
‘Marley’ uniquely chronicles the upbringing and personal background of one of music’s, and Jamaica’s, most beloved, revolutionary and respected icons. With the help and support of the reggae singer-songwriter’s family, including his widow, Rita; son, Ziggy; and daughter, Cedella; the documentary features interviews who those who knew Marley best. The film also includes rare photos and performances from the musician’s career to showcase why he has become such an important part of music history, and why his message has transcended different cultures.
Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald, who knew little about Marley’s life and career being being hired by the producers of the film’s production company, Shangri-La Entertainment, successfully captured why the singer was motivated to sing about the hardships Jamaica was facing. ‘Marley’ proves the singer wasn’t just involved in the music industry just for his love of singing; he also wanted to serve as an inspiration for people in Jamaica, and around the world, determined to make better lives for themselves. People today can still relate to, and respect, Marley’s actions, because he refused to allow anyone to be forgotten by society, or be dictated on how to live by other people.
Through interviews with Marley’s family, friends and fellow musicians, the filmmaker captured little-before-known facts about the singer’s early struggles with money, his mixed heritage and not knowing his father. While the public previously knew little about his upbringing, the inclusion of his troubled childhood, which left him so determined to fight the political wrongs of his era, turned him into an even bigger symbol of hope and peace for those struggling worldwide.
To showcase the early childhood and adolescent struggles Marley endured, the film includes emotional interviews with several people who knew the singer during his early life. One such person is Neville “Bunny” Livingston, who helped form the group that launched Marley’s career, The Wailers. Livingston was initially wary of working with Macdonald, due to his belief that The Wailer’s story was misrepresented in the past. But once he agreed to take part in ‘Marley,’ he willingly and freely spoke of the process of writing and recording with his bandmate.
Once Marley began to garner success with his music, his increasingly liberated outlook on life began to have an affect on his family. While the singer strived to find his own success in life to better his economical misfortunes, after his father Norvel failed to be a constant presence in his life and support him, Marley ultimately was just as emotionally distant from his family. While the singer stood for improving all aspects of life in Jamaica and around the world, Macdonald bravely showed a side of Marley few people discuss-how he often cheated on Rita, even while he was married to her, and didn’t live with her and their children. While Rita, Ziggy and most particularly Cedella talk about Marley’s infidelity, their hurt and pain is clearly visible, making the documentary equally balanced between the music and personal lifestyles.
‘Marley’ successfully showcases the powerful message the popular, respected singer-songwriter tried to spread across the world through his reggae music. He proved with his own rise in success that anyone who comes from even the most meager lifestyles can still succeed and achieve whatever they want, as long as they work for it. The documentary also gives a powerful insight into the little-known facts about the musician’s upbringing and personal relationships that will surely resonate with his fans worldwide.
Written by: Karen Benardello