I'll have you know there's a massive cult surrounding the legacy of Bob Marley, of which I have yet to be inducted into as a card carrying member. Chances are, you already were aware of that first fact; the latter tidbit, probably not. So how does a person who only has a single Bob Marley lp in their collection (this excellent Studio One era compilation) and a limited knowledge of his story accurately judge the new documentary about the man? Carefully, especially when it only takes about a half an hour to ascertain that this one's for the fans, not the uninitiated.
There's nothing particularly awry about Kevin Macdonald's (Touching the Void,
One Day in September) Marley. The film houses an abundance of quality archival footage and photographic stills of the musical legend at work and play. And Macdonald does a fine job of blending these elements with newer interviews with close friends, family and music industry insiders, organizing the material in a coherent and strongly chronological fashion. It's just that, at nearly 2 1/2 hours in length, there's not a lot of urgency or innovation present in the way that this whale of a feature-length documentary swims.
A little more trimming or, perhaps, a structural device along the lines of what Martin Scorsese fashioned for his Bob Dylan doc, No Direction Home, framing the action around a single important event in Marley's history (like Scorsese did w/ Dylan's confrontational transition from playing acoustically to going electric), might have strengthened what feels like rather anemic pacing at times.
That's not to say that Marley is an uninteresting or unnecessary film; it works rather well as a loving portrait for the long-time fans. But, here's the rub: if, like me, you're still trying to find your footing in Marley's rather intimidatingly large discography and legacy, there's something to be said for the comforts of brevity and/or dramatic tension, either of which could have greatly improved my experience of the film.
Marley opens at the Hollywood Theatre and Living Room Theaters on Friday, April 20th.
Remember to find and "like" us on our Facebook page.
Subscribe to the blog's feed here.