Tag Archives: Bob Marley


13 Oct


Director: Kevin Macdonald

Stars: Bob Marley, Ziggy Marley and Jimmy Cliff

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 144 minutes



For all that has been reported about the late Bob Marley I found myself watching this documentary rather embarrassed by my lack of actual knowledge. Maybe we all feel that we know Nesta Robert Marley because of those amazing songs – No Woman No Cry, Buffalo Soldier, One Love etc. – and his high profile position as the face of Rastafarianism. I thought that I had a line on it all, but kudos to film-maker Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland) for going into such depth here and for gaining the trust and support of Bob’s family. As with the phenomenal documentary Senna, it is the private family archives that really lift this film on to another level – that and the music which remains special.

Bob was born in a Jamaican village in 1945 to mixed race parents. He did not get to know his father, a man from Sussex, England who claimed to be a Captain in the Royal Marines, but remained very close to his mother and extended family. At 14 Bob left school and focused on music. He recorded his first singles by age 17 and went on to form The Wailers with Bunny Wailer (his step brother) and Peter Tosh. Bob and his collaborators played some rock, a lot of ska and settled on reggae. That music suited his poetic lyric writing and his burgeoning beliefs in the Rastafari movement for which he became a figurehead. Reggae music is what Bob Marley is known for and he, as a solo artist, with The Wailers and other collaborators, produced the greatest reggae music of all time.

This documentary is a straight chronological biography of Marley (as well, importantly, as a study of Jamaica in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s). It is evidently made with a lot of love and reverence for the subject and it is blessed with that splendid archive footage and candid interviews from Bob’s family and friends. It is a comprehensive and insightful study. I found it interesting and very entertaining. It made me re-appraise Marley and my respect for him grew as a result. He was and remains a legend of a musician, he clearly touched almost all who met him, and his words, music and deeds live on some 30 years after his death.

%d bloggers like this: