Film Review: Marley

A good documentary will leave viewers eager to find out more about the subject matter. Kevin Macdonald’s film about legendary artist Bob Marley does just this.

Bob Marley was one of the most recognised and successful musicians of the twentieth century. In his documentary about the reggae legend, Kevin Macdonald speaks to a number of friends, colleagues and family members. As well as discussing their memories of Marley, Macdonald delves into the singer and songwriter’s background, revealing social and political influences on his music…

Marley is a perfectly pitched documentary. It offers both amusing anecdotes and more sober insights into the life of the Jamaican artist. The film offers an insight into Bob Marley that gives context to his beliefs and his music. Perhaps the most interesting facet is that the documentary highlights how the artist’s early life and struggles influenced his music and political beliefs.

Macdonald interviews a number of people connected with Bob Marley. The fact that close family members have agreed to take part, gives this documentary an air of authenticity. Macdonald speaks with the people who knew Marley best, from his mother and wife, to band members in the later years. The variety of sources gives the documentary balance.

Marley’s music is used throughout the film. Thankfully, Macdonald eschews listing the artist’s chart successes, mentioning only now and again the fortunes of Marley’s career. Songs are used to accompany concert footage and the biography. A mixture of well-known hits and lesser-known tracks feature in the documentary, a pertinent reminder of the volume of music that Marley produced.

Marley should prove fascinating for both ardent fans of the artist, who are likely to find the anecdotes interesting, and those less familiar with his life and musical output. Kevin Macdonald’s film provides a definitive biography of Bob Marley.

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