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

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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