Unchained at SXSW: “Marley”

The definitive life story of Bob Marley – musician, revolutionary, legend – from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best. Directed by Academy Award Winner Kevin Macdonald.

Personally, I know 3 or 4 Bob Marley songs and usually I think of him as a an image on a poster or T-shirt worn by the white kids at my college. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to the screening of MARLEY. I am a big fan of music documentaries because well they have great soundtracks and if done right, they go beyond your typical “MTV Behind the Music”. MARLEY actually went above and beyond my expectations. The film uses both personal/news/concert footage of the musician, interviews with former band-mates/loved ones and B-roll footage of his village in Jamaica (including the most beautiful aerial views of the island I’ve ever seen) to paint a picture of such an iconic man. What did I learn? I learned about the obstacles a filmmaker must overcome if they are going to tell a story about a figure that is revered by the world. You hear “Someone made a doc about Bob Marley” and automatically think well what else is there to know? I now realize that a great filmmaker has to dig deeper than their predecessors to find that one story no one has ever heard. This particular filmmaker, Kevin Macdonald, started with Marley’s family, including his son Ziggy who granted him access to pretty much Bob’s entire life. Learning that his father was a White man or that he may have died from cancer that could have been prevented by an improperly treated soccer injury, or even that his wife was sort of okay with his womanizer persona added depth to an individual who in my mind had essentially been reduced to a radical Rasta-man with dreadlocks smoking a joint. I walked away from the screening enlightened at how Bob Marley was so much grander than that.

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