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MARLEY.. The Island Stage Review

By April 13, 2012Articles

Yesterday was a good day! A friend of mine hooked me up with a pass to see the screening of “Marley”, the much anticipated docu-film which opens on 4/20/12 in theaters.

I grabbed a couple of close friends and off we went! I was wondering what the crowd would be like and hoping that there would be enough seats, secretly wishing that there would be so many people there that they would have to turn people away. Well, it turns out there were enough seats, after the theater brought additional chairs in! It was filled to capacity and more!!

From Neville Garrick to Bunny Livingston, Lee Scratch Perry to Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Cindy Breakspeare and of course Rita Marley and many more, we were there with them as they walked with us through Bob’s journey.

The story begins at the “Door of No Return”, a museum and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade on tiny Goree Island, 3 km off the coast of the city of Dakar, Senegal, a compound which is said to have been the last stopping point for millions of Africans sold into slavery. We are lead out of this door and taken to the Island of Jamaica. Enter Robert Nesta Marley..

We walk through Bob’s early childhood in St. Ann, a place called 9 Mile, located in the mountains well outside of the inner cities of Kingston, Jamaica. We get to hear from cousins and close friends who grew up with “Robbie” as some affectionately called him.

At a young age, Bob and his mother Cedella make the move to Kingston to try and make a better life. It’ s not easy for Bob. He is teased about being “half caste” by the kids in Trenchtown.

The story then takes us into the music. From the early ska recordings to the birth of the first reggae riffs, we get to see the evolution of the dynamics which made up the original group”The Wailers”. Bunny Livingston takes us through that time period up to the point where he decided to stop touring with the band and why. It is nice to hear this from Bunny directly, as there has been a lot of assumptions and speculation through the years.

I appreciated the perspectives in particular of Neville Garrick, Bob’s Art Director . Neville literally makes us feel like we are there experiencing Bob live and direct. From playing football in the “yaad” at 56 Hope Road to road tours in London, we are there.

I have more respect than ever (if that’s possible) for Rita Marley after seeing this film. The love she had for Bob and the level of commitment to the message in the music is powerful. She gracefully shared Bob with us back then and even now, with a total understanding of what he means to the world.

We got to know “Captain Marley”, Bob’s biological father better. We meet a half sister , cousins and second cousins. We are “let in”.

One day, after a successful show in Madison Square Garden, Bob collapses while taking a run in the park. He is seizing and weak. His Rastafarian friends and entourage speak to him, and the next thing you know, Bob chants “Rastafari” and jumps up to his feet as though nothing had happened!

Only months later, Bob was gone. We are taken through his short stay in Germany with holistic doctors and staff, to the flight back to Miami just 3 days before his death. We hear from Ziggy and Cedella, two of Bob’s eldest children about what kind of father Bob was, and what it was like losing him to cancer.

When the movie ended, I noticed that many people did not want get up to leave the theater. The vibration in the room was so powerful, it felt as though Bob was there in the midst. That’s because, he was..

This is a well done film! I would encourage not only lovers of Bob Marley and Reggae music to see it, but everyone should see this inspiring film.

This is a story about a special soul, a determined soul, and one of the most important people and musicians of our time. Island Stage highly recommends this film.

“From Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND) comes the story of a towering figure of musical history, whose music and message transcended different cultures, languages and creeds. The film follows the life of Bob Marley from his early days in Jamaican slums to the reggae king’s death from cancer at the age of 36, with rare interviews with Marley’s family and much of his music, including his last personal appearance at the 1978 One Love Concert. This informative, insightful documentary ranks as one of the greatest music documentaries ever”.

Written by Susan Underwood

Island Stage Founder & Creative Director

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