Film Review: Marley

Posted in Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, New Media on 2012-04-20 01:57Z by Steven

Film Review: Marley

Film Journal International
2012-04-18

Marsha McCreadie

Marley, the documentary by Oscar-winning Kevin Macdonald about the legendary musician and national and international symbol for individual rights, should sparkle and sing—OK, there’s some of that—but it just sort of hums along. Maybe you can’t catch this particular lightning in a bottle, but there might be another way than this respectful, straightforward, admiring approach.

 If anyone could display the spectacular yet contradictory parts of Bob Marley—a multi-talented half-black/half-white womanizer who loved spiritually and pan-nationally; a mesmerizing performer who was a quiet guy; a pride-instiller for his dirt-poor country and religious proselytizer who lived by his own rules—it should be Macdonald. The Oscar-winning British director made the tyrant Idi Amin likeable and the charming James McAvoy despicable in The Last King of Scotland; he set our hearts to pounding with the jarring edit of massacred Israeli Olympians in One Day in September. Marley is thorough, revelatory and completely fair-minded. It’s just not very exciting. Wrong for Bob Marley…

…The Marley family-approved doc includes rare, candid interviews with his children (well, two of the eleven), and three—wait, four—of his seven women. Marley comes across as introspective, also extremely competitive (one too many shots of him at soccer), emphasizing the psychoanalytic angle that he was so driven because he never really knew his white father, married to his mother Cedella but mainly absent until he died when Bob was 10. We see a photo of Norval Marley, learn what little there is to know about this British Marine captain, and find that Bob always saw himself as an outsider: never part of the white community nor of the black, as he was considered a half-caste, not black enough. In the black Jamaican community, it was rumored his white half caused his melanoma, from which he died at 36…

Read the entire review here.

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The Legend of Marley: Kevin Macdonald considers reggae, Rasta and politics in new documentary

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, New Media on 2012-04-20 01:36Z by Steven

The Legend of Marley: Kevin Macdonald considers reggae, Rasta and politics in new documentary

Film Journal International
2012-04-19

Doris Toumarkine

It’s taken several decades and faced many frustrating setbacks, but a richly documented and worthy film about the late reggae superstar Bob Marley has at last been realized.

Previously attached to Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme, Marley has been brought to life by Oscar-winning Scottish director Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September), who was persuaded to board the project by executive producer Chris Blackwell, the man who signed Marley to his influential Island Records label.

Just as important, Hollywood producer/financier Steve Bing’s money kicked in (through his Shangri-La Entertainment) and Marley’s family finally acceded to full cooperation and access after much dissension. Marley’s son Ziggy is an exec producer and Bing is a producer.

Expectations are no doubt soaring high for this first full-blown documentary, not just for hard-core Marley and reggae fans but for all those who value pop music and its evolution as integral to Western culture.

Providing a wealth of visual material, music and testimony from talking heads close to Marley, the Magnolia release initially conveys the artist’s extreme poverty in his native Jamaica, where he grew up the mixed-race son of a teenage black mother and older, largely absent white British father, a military man who sailed the seas or just plain drifted…

…Maybe not everything was captured. Marley had a reputation for the wandering eye (he had 11 children) and smoked a lot of weed, aka ganja, but Marley mostly stays clear of those topics.

 More to the point, the doc provides a wealth of music and suggests why the Marley reggae sound caught on so big. Music abounds, including hits from the album Exodus and the reggae smash “No Woman, No Cry,” whose rhythms were unique because, as the doc shows, Marley shifted the traditional beats…

…So what was the most surprising thing Macdonald learned about Marley?

 “I discovered how Marley was such an outcast, such an outsider even in his native country,” he replies. “As a mixed-race man, he was never really respected and he was even looked down upon because he was a Rastafarian. Yet he found his identity as a Rasta and when he became successful, everything changed.”…

Read the entire review here.

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Hitting the Right Rhythm to Tell Marley’s Story

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive on 2012-04-12 00:54Z by Steven

Hitting the Right Rhythm to Tell Marley’s Story

The New York Times
2012-04-06

John Anderson

Of all the friends, lovers, relatives and Rastas that the director Kevin Macdonald wrangled into his new documentary, “Marley,” one of his favorite finds was Dudley Sibley, a onetime recording artist and the janitor at the Jamaican recording studio where Bob Marley cut his musical teeth.

“He lived with Bob for 18 months in the back of Studio 1,” Mr. Macdonald said recently over breakfast in Manhattan. “No one ever thought to talk to this guy. My researcher in Jamaica said to me, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s this guy I’ve met who says he lived with Bob.’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, I don’t believe that.’ But I met him. And he was for real.”

Making a definitive biographical film about Marley, the reggae superstar, who died of cancer in 1981, has always been problematic, plagued by a shortage of archival footage, disagreements over music publishing, and the fact that Marley had 11 children by seven women and never wrote a will…

…The people Mr. Macdonald set out to interview included “everyone who’s alive and was intimate with Bob,” he said. They included Neville Livingston, a k a Bunny Wailer of the original Wailers (later Bob Marley and the Wailers) and Marley’s relatives, black and white. (His absentee mixed-race father, Norval Marley, who was considered a white Jamaican, is a ghostly presence.) Anyone familiar with Bob Marley would assume that, if anything, the difficulties inherent in getting his inner circle to sign off on the same film would keep the full story from getting on screen for 31 years. But Mr. Macdonald said he got total cooperation. Ziggy Marley, Bob’s eldest son, said the family is happy with the result.

 “This is what we wanted it to be,” Ziggy Marley, a successful pop performer, said by phone. “I’ve never read one book about my father,” he said. “Who are they? They don’t know him.”

Rita Marley, Ziggy’s mother and Bob’s widow, concurred…

Read the entire article here.

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Bob Marley: the regret that haunted his life

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, New Media on 2012-04-08 21:52Z by Steven

Bob Marley: the regret that haunted his life

The Guardian
2012-04-07

Tim Adams, Staff Writer

Director Kevin Macdonald explains how he pieced together his new film about reggae legend Bob Marley, from troubled early years in Jamaica to worldwide adulation – even after death

In 2005, the director Kevin Macdonald was working in Uganda on his film The Last King of Scotland. In the slums of Kampala he was struck by a curious fact. There seemed to be images of Bob Marley and “Get up, stand up” slogans and dreadlocks wherever he went.

Marley had been on Macdonald’s mind anyway: he had been asked by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, if he would be interested in getting involved in a film project about the Jamaican musician’s enduring legacy.

The original plan had been to follow a group of rastafarians on their journey from Kingston to their spiritual homeland of Ethiopia, to attend a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Marley’s birth. As it worked out, that film was never made, but, when the opportunity arose for Macdonald to make a more ambitious documentary about Marley, he jumped at the chance…

…In his lifetime Bob Marley was a reluctant interviewee. “Having little formal education,” Macdonald suggests, “he felt uncomfortable being asked questions by journalists.” Anyway, there were aspects of his past on which he did not want to dwell, particularly his feelings about his white, absent father, Norval Marley, a man who claimed to have been a captain in the colonial Caribbean army, but wasn’t.

In some ways, in the film, “Captain” Norval becomes the key to understanding Marley. As Macdonald says, “a lot of people assume Bob was black and are surprised to discover he had a white father”. The prejudice associated with that fact in Marley’s remote home village of Nine Miles high up in the Jamaican hills helped to form the powerful quest for identity that he discovered in rastafarianism…

Read the entire article here.

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Berlin Film Festival: Critics hail new Bob Marley documentary

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, New Media on 2012-04-01 02:41Z by Steven

Berlin Film Festival: Critics hail new Bob Marley documentary

The Telegraph
2012-02-16

Critics at the Berlin Film Festival have been unanimous in their praise of Kevin Macdonald’s new documentary ‘Marley’, which some have called the definitive biography of the reggae singer.

Oscar-winning documentary maker Kevin Macdonald has made what critics are calling the definitive biography of reggae legend Bob Marley, aided by the singer’s family and record label who have given the project their blessing.

The first authorised film of his life had its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, and while questions about Marley remain, it goes some way to revealing the man behind the myth.

“I just felt like there weren’t any good films about him and a lot of misinformation,” Macdonald told Reuters this week…

…The film explores how Marley, who died of cancer in 1981 aged 36, was troubled by his mixed-race heritage, which was the source of bullying when he was a child. It also looks at how his many affairs and children out of wedlock took its toll on wife Rita and their daughter Cedella.
 
Marley had 11 children by seven mothers, according to several accounts of his life…

Read the entire article here.

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The man behind the legend

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, New Media on 2012-02-16 00:48Z by Steven

The man behind the legend

Edmonton Journal
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2012-02-14

Jay Stone, Postmedia News

BERLIN – He was a musician, a spiritual leader, a ladies’ man, a smoker of heroic amounts of ganja, a political force and a religious icon. And, 31 years after his death, Bob Marley is still a chart-topper: His Legend album sells 250,000 copies a year, even now.

“Everywhere in the world people look at Bob as some kind of leader, philosopher, prophet, someone who speaks to their lives and in whom they find wisdom,” says Scottish filmmaker Kevin Macdonald. “It’s fascinating: Why is that? Nobody else has had that effect in music.”

Macdonald directed the documentary, Marley. It’s a definitive—not to say encyclopedic—biopic of a musician who was a mystery, despite his popularity as the first poet of reggae. Almost 2 and a half hours long, it includes concert footage and interviews with friends and family. It is having its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival

…The Scottish director took over the project from Jonathan Demme, who dropped out because of the lack of historical documents with which to put together a full picture. Macdonald said he became committed to it while in Uganda shooting The King of Scotland, his film about Idi Amin.

“I went into the Kampala slums with some of my actors, and people had Bob Marley pictures, graffiti, pictures,” Macdonald said. “Twenty-five years after he died, he still had a huge impact. There’s no other musician I can think of who has that position in culture, so long after he’s dead, and so far away, in a poor part of a central African city.”

He looked at the film as a kind of detective story. Much of Marley’s identity came from the fact that he was of mixed race—his mother was black, his father white—so that, in some ways, he was an outsider in his own country. Despite Macdonald’s research, however, Marley’s father, Norval, remains a mystery: There is a photograph of him in the movie, but not much information…

Read the entire article here.

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