Lexi Award winner – Best Documentary
A bit of distance – and a whole lot of authorised access – make this cradle to (premature) grave portrait of Bob Marley a worthy addition to the cannon of distinguished rockumentaries. Indeed, Martin Scorsese and Jonathon Demme were each, at one time, slated to direct this family-authorised portrait but it finally fell to Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, One Day in September) who clearly relished returning to his first love, documentary.
With Marley’s son Ziggy on board as a producer, access to close friends, family, members of the Wailers – and the many girlfriends – was guaranteed. The first third, with the fresh-faced young man experimenting with Ska in Kingston, is arguably the freshest material but Macdonald is concerned with more than the eulogised global Reggae phenomenon of Marley. Instead he grapples with the religious and philosophical convictions of the man, and also the political agenda to Marley’s religious conversion. Running throughout the film are the knotted politics of the post-colonial island, and Marley’s Rastafarianism provided him with a framework for injecting a Black Power message into his lyrics. Macdonald’s portrait provides an understanding of the importance of time and place as well as man and mission, giving the film a much broader audience than just the legion of musical fans!