Marley movie reveals the man behind the music



10:20 GMT, 20 April 2012


Verdict: A great music documentary

Egotist: Singer Bob Marley

Egotist: Singer Bob Marley

Marley is not the prequel to A Christmas Carol or the doggie blockbuster Marley & Me.

It’s a meticulously researched, consistently interesting documentary about superstar Bob Marley — and it makes two-and-a-half hours pass by in a flash.

I once met Marley at a music awards ceremony but, alas, the King of Reggae wasn’t at his best. He had an obnoxious entourage, was stoned and behaved like a diva about whether or not to accept an award from Peter Cook — because the latter was wearing a skirt for the occasion, which apparently ran counter to Marley’s Rastafarianism.

Marley eventually agreed to swallow his religious reservations and accept the award, but it was embarrassingly obvious he enjoyed getting people to kowtow to him.

Marley struck me then as being, like so many rock stars, a handsome egotist over-dependent on submissive adoration.

It comes as no surprise to learn from this documentary that he fathered 11 children by seven women, and that he was far from a good husband or father.

Though authorised by the family, Kevin Macdonald’s film is frank about the great man’s strengths and weaknesses.

You can detect his overwhelming need for commercial success in his unlikely cover version of Dion And The Belmonts’ A Teenager In Love.

His resentment against authority clearly dates from his non-communication with his white father and the refusal by the family’s building company to subsidise him.

Marley’s excellent music speaks for itself, but this is not a performance film. It’s an absorbing analysis of the man and his appeal — and, as such, it could hardly be bettered.