Man be­hind the myth

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

JUST to be clear, this is not the true story of the pooch that took a one- way trip to the vet at the end of that much- loved Owen Wil­son movie.

No, Mar­ley is a deep- fo­cus doc­u­men­tary look at the life, times and legacy of Ja­maican mu­sic icon Bob Mar­ley, who died ridicu­lously young at the age of 36 in 1981.

To use reg­gae par­lance, the 145- minute Mar­ley is styled very much as a slow jam by Scot­tish film­maker Kevin Mac­don­ald.

Ev­ery­one who knew, loved or loathed the enig­matic sub­ject gets their say.

Some stick to the usual syco­phan­tic party lines heard in mu­sic do­cos. Oth­ers break ranks and bust loose with the in­sider info.

This is just as it should be, con­sid­er­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of liv­ing Bob Mar­ley packed into his short life.

You don’t fa­ther 11 chil­dren by seven dif­fer­ent women un­less you’re mak­ing the most of ev­ery mo­ment.

The pre­dom­i­nantly talky struc­ture of Mar­ley was foisted upon Mac­don­ald, largely be­cause so lit­tle us­able archival footage ex­ists of the man at the peak of his pow­ers.

A 60 Min­utes story on Mar­ley by Aus­tralia’s Ge­orge Ne­gus is one of the few

com­plete in­ter­views in ex­is­tence and crops up reg­u­larly through­out the film.

Nev­er­the­less, Mac­don­ald’s open- door in­ter­view pol­icy pays off bril­liantly for the doc­u­men­tary be­cause a ma­jor­ity of the speak­ers are as elo­quent as they are colour­ful in their own right. Mar­ley’s mil­i­tant former side­man Bunny Wailer, for in­stance, war­rants a movie of his own af­ter this.

In ad­di­tion to su­perbly prov­ing Mar­ley’s cre­den­tials as a poet, philoso­pher and mu­si­cal al­chemist par ex­cel­lence, the doc­u­men­tary also cap­tures the dra­mas that de­fined life with Bob Mar­ley on a daily ba­sis.

Take one week in 1976 as a case in point. One day, he barely sur­vives a bloody as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt in the kitchen of his home. The next, he plays a sell- out show in the Ja­maican cap­i­tal that de­fuses a po­ten­tial melt­down on the eve of the coun­try’s fed­eral elec­tions.

As ex­pected, the mu­sic sound­track is bril­liant, with many stun­ning de­mos and al­ter­nate ver­sions of clas­sic Mar­ley cuts that will sur­prise and re­vi­talise long- time fans.

Now show­ing State Cin­ema

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