April 23, 2012
Stephen Holden of The New York Times loved this film as did my friend, Peter Aschkenasy, who urged me to see it. I didn’t think it was as fantastic as they did, but I certainly enjoyed it and came away with a deep appreciation of Marley’s talent and an understanding of his fans’ devotion to him and his music. The movie is definitely worth seeing.
In his Times review Holden wrote that Marley “was the son of a young black woman, Cedella Marley Booker, who had a passing relationship with the much older Norval Marley, a British Army man of mixed race who was considered a white Jamaican. Because of his racially mixed parentage Bob Marley found himself a social outcast.”
Interestingly, the film makes the point that while Marley was beloved by blacks around the world, and particularly in Jamaica where he was born, he never caught on with black Americans. His followers in the U.S. were overwhelmingly white. I saw the film at the Landmark Sunshine Theater on East Houston Street in Manhattan and was surprised that the audience was 90 percent or more white.
The film shows clips of Marley’s concerts but no songs are sung in their entirety. His style of music was Reggae which someone in the film defines as a mixture of Gospel, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, a touch of Jazz, and a host of other musical strains. I enjoyed listening to his music and particularly liked watching him dance during a concert. He dominated the stage the way Mick Jagger does during his shows.
Marley, a Rastafarian, was a short man with dreadlocks. He died of cancer at the age of 36. Apparently he did not seek adequate treatment when he was diagnosed a few years earlier with malignant melanoma in one of his toes. He feared amputation which would affect his ability to dance. When his hair fell out during cancer treatment, according to one observer, he became very tiny.
Whether or not you are familiar with Marley’s music, you will enjoy this film. A lot of details about his life are provided by his friends and by Cynthia Breakspeare, the mother of Marley’s son Damian, also a musician. Marley left a permanent mark on life and it was clearly a positive one.
Arts & Entertainment
April 23, 2012