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Released 20 April 2012
Director Kevin Macdonald
Starring Bob Marley
Producer(s) Steve Bing, Charles Steel
Origin United States, United Kingdom
Running Time 144 minutes
Genre Documentary, Biography, Music
Rating 15A

Roots, Rock, Reggae.

Bob Marley is regarded as one of the best and most influential musicians of the 20th Century, yet many would still know very little about the man that helped popularise Reggae music, the Rastafari movement and did more than inept politicians to unite his fellow countrymen and women, who were embroiled in a nasty civil war. While it is impossible to learn everything about a man so complex in just over two hours of film, Kevin Macdonald's documentary is just about as good as you can get.

Covering Marley's entire life, we learn that the famed Jamaican actually grew up in a humble setting – raised in a shack by his loving mother in a small, run-down village. Fathered by a fifty year-old white army official, Marley was teased as young boy for not being fully black, something that inspired him in later years to write his powerful music and support the Rasta ideology.

Aided by footage of Marley in various concerts, old interviews and personalised insight from his family, friends, managers and fellow Wailers' members, MacDonald pieces together his rise to fame in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and, finally, America. Marley's ability to act as a political ambassador enhanced his supremacy – particularly in his homeland where, at one time, he lived in exile after being shot. Of similarly interesting note was his fascination, and often frustration, at being able to globally reach white people with his music but seemingly unable to infiltrate the black scene, especially in America.

A complex character who supported the use of cannabis as a spiritual healer and was unafraid to be a womaniser - somehow always getting away with it too - Bob Marley was ultimately a man who was just as vulnerable as the rest of us. He died from cancer at the age of thirty-six in 1981, leaving followers to wonder what he may have been able to achieve if he had the opportunity to continue his musical preaching.

By no means a perfect being – who is? – Marley portrays Bob as a hero of his time and rightly so. This documentary, often poetic in its illustration, is poignantly aired and the unwavering feeling towards the end is of what might have been.

- David Caulfield