Fail­ure to launch

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

plot is far more com­plex than nec­es­sary, and there is lit­tle style to the space­ship de­sign.

That said, there’s enough po­ten­tial in Lock­out to sug­gest that Mather and St Leger might yet de­liver. Keep your eyes peeled. ROBERT NESTA Mar­ley was born in the raggedy vil­lage of Nine Mile in Saint Ann Parish, Ja­maica to a teenage Afro-ja­maican mother and an English fa­ther whom the fam­ily rarely saw af­ter­wards. Lo­cals re­call the young Mar­ley as a “red pick­ney” who was fre­quently bul­lied on ac­count of his mixed her­itage.

Even­tu­ally his mother Cedella had enough and re­lo­cated to Kingston, where Bob was ex­posed to ska and Rasta­far­i­an­ism. Ideas of Pan-african iden­tity would be­come in­te­gral to Mar­ley’s lyrics, as would the screwy, wrongly placed down­beat that would lead from ska to reg­gae.

Bob mar­ried Rita in 1966 and she stayed on as his wife and back­ing singer un­til his death in 1981. Mar­ley wasn’t faith­ful – he sired 11 chil­dren from seven dif­fer­ent re­la­tion­ships. And yet few of his fel­low-mu­si­cians and sur­viv­ing fam­ily mem­bers have a bad word to say about him. His chil­dren de­scribe him as need­lessly com­pet­i­tive yet laugh it off. His wife and mis­tress (the for­mer Miss World 1976, Cindy Break­s­peare) were happy to join forces at Bob’s deathbed.

These women, like most of the in­ter­vie­wees cap­tured on cam­era in Mar­ley, are de­ter­mined to print the leg­end and en­sure that the sem­i­nal mu­si­cian is re­mem­bered as just that.

Kevin Mac­don­ald’s solid, in­for­ma­tive, re­spect­ful bio-doc is not quite the daz­zling, in­no­va­tive non-fic­tion we might have ex­pected from the Os­car-win­ning di­rec­tor of Touch­ing the Void. There’s noth­ing about the pre­sen­ta­tion of Mar­ley that might de­ter sur­viv­ing fam­ily and friends from pro­vid­ing tes­ti­mony. It wouldn’t look out of place on a BBC4 spe­cial.

But Mac­don­ald (who took over the reigns when Martin Scors­ese found him­self oth­er­wise oc­cu­pied) is an as­tute doc­u­men­tar­ian. And while he can’t sup­ply de­fin­i­tive an­swers, he can sure leave ques­tions hang­ing. Did im­pre­sario Chris Black­well rip off artists such as he Wail­ers? How did Rita Mar­ley shrug off all those other women? Did Bob’s Rasta­far­ian doc­tors drop the ball on the can­cer that killed him?

Fas­ci­nat­ing ar­chive footage, in­clud­ing un­seen shots of the 1978 One Love Peace con­cert per­for­mance of Jammin, dur­ing which Bob joined the hands of po­lit­i­cal ri­vals Michael Man­ley and Ed­ward Seaga, ought to place Mar­ley, the film, on the school cur­ricu­lum. But hang on. Cert 15A? For soft drug use? Even when it’s clearly con­tex­tu­alised as re­li­gious prac­tise? We’ll have what­ever they’re smok­ing over at IFCO, thanks.

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