A Film By Kevin Macdonald
Universal Pictures UK
Kevin Macdonald has made a couple of great documentaries already and people seemed to love Marley at the movies – not so much for what it said, rather for who/what it was about. Well, that’s it with documentary isn’t it – you either have a fresh angle or you pick the right subject. There are great writers and then there are those that simply have a great story – it might pay to have both, but you’ll find you can get paid for just having one of those skills. Provided it’s the right one to have for the right time.
Here, not much – really – is revealed about Bob Marley’s life and career. Unless of course your interest/knowledge in Bob and his music peaks with singing along to Buffalo Soldier after a few beers, owning and playing a copy of Legend annually.
It’s by no stretch a bad documentary – but it’s aimed at the neophyte; a gesture for those that feel they probably should know a bit more about Bob. And/or for those that still giggle when they hear the word ‘Ganja’.
There’s nothing remarkable about the footage compiled here – a lot of it is about already and has been for a long time. There is a decent tracing of the chronology/discography but this is typical Film Festival fare; earn the dollars by getting the fans that still have a tinge of green about them (pardon the pun); those perhaps keen on the music but they have not already read one of the many books on this subject, taken in the exhaustive audio and visual documents, spent huge amounts of time with the music.
That’s just how so many people like to see him. This film won’t damage that – it’ll probably enhance that image. And perhaps it was – as far as Macdonald is concerned – a great stroke of timing. Much like that other film about that other Bob was a few years back for Scorsese.
I didn’t hate this. But I couldn’t recommend it – unless you still marvel as you slow-dance-sway at the BBQ to No Woman, No Cry, phoned-in phoney patois in your singalong voice; amazed over chardonnay when one of the more clued up guests tells you Eric Clapton didn’t write I Shot The Sheriff…