Robert Nesta Marley died almost 31 years ago yet his image continues to adorn the chest of annoying douchebags and his music is continuously blared from stolen car radios in that week we call summer. His message of staunch Rastafarianism and peace and love may have been watered down and replaced with a dreadlocked image of a man who wears denim, plays football and loves weed, but whatever you think of Bob Marley he remains a musical icon and Jamaica's most famous son.
His premature death at the age of 36 occurred just as he and his Wailers were on the brink of turning worldwide recognition and a cult fanbase into superstardom, so of course his story has always been a favourite for those looking to tell the tale or simply make a quick buck. The project was bandied around several directors and producers for many years before eventually landing in the lap of Kevin McDonald; a man who knows a thing or two about making a good doc and took advantage of the support provided by Marley's family and estate while taking the time to delve deep enough into his back story to warrant a 144 minute film. Everyone from his school teacher to early band mates and mistresses to the nurse who cared for him near the end are interviewed which gives an impartial and well-balanced look at the man, but he's the real draw of Marley. Despite his numerous dalliances it's hard not to warm to a character so clearly charming, funny and optimistic even when risking his life for his political beliefs and being disgracefully abandoned by the middle-aged white father who impregnated his teenage mother.
A large portion of it is spent watching talking heads but photos, performances and interviews are expertly used to bring the film to life, even if adding subtitles for even the slightest Jamaican accent is somewhat irritating. Obviously the main target for this film is his many fans but even if your knowledge of Bob Marley goes as far as drunkenly dancing to Funkstar Deluxe remixes in Ayia Napa, you'll definitely take something away from this superior documentary other than a yearning desire to visit Saint Ann and a serious case of the munchies.