2012 Certificate: 15


Outstanding documentary from The Last King Of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald chronicling the life and legacy of reggae superstar Bob Marley. Weaving together interviews with friends, family and fellow musicians with momentous news footage and words from the man himself, Macdonald creates a rich tapestry of a true icon. Illuminating, intoxicating and definitive - no miss it, no cry.


  • Kevin Macdonald


  • Documentary


For all those who've bought the T-shirt but never been there, this exemplary film from Kevin 'Touching The Void' Macdonald presents as complete a history of Bob Marley as you'll ever need.

Despite being made with the cooperation of Marley's family and closest associates, it avoids hagiography to reveal a remarkably clear portrait of the man as poet, prophet and peacemaker.

The illegitimate son of a white Englishman, Marley was always troubled by his mixed race. But, allied to his musical talent and Rastafarian beliefs, it was to fuel a lifelong, global crusade for unification.

One love he preached. And one wife he had - plus numerous other lovers from Miss World 1976 Cindy Brakespeare to the daughter of a Gabonese dictator. The result was eleven children from seven mothers.

Long-suffering spouse Rita, most famous offspring Ziggy and straight-talking daughter Cedella are among the many interviewed here, their honest thoughts providing enlightening background to tales from his public and professional life, as regaled by producers, technicians, and a constantly entertaining stream of Wailers.

While his failure to win over black audiences in America was a personal bugbear (the white kids loved him - still do), an assassination attempt and a never-ending chorus of disapproval for his love of heavy duty herbs were all taken in his stride.

Concert and news reportage add to the legend, as when Marley brings together the violently opposed factions of Jamaica, but particularly from the day Zimbabwe gained independence.

With the Wailers leading the celebrations, no sooner has Robert Mugabe taken control than in comes the tear gas to disperse the crowds. Marley was the last man standing.

Musically, all the key notes are here (with the notable exception of Buffalo Soldier, possibly because it was released after his death). But while we learn about the evolution of reggae and the inspiration behind certain songs, the music is mostly - and rightly - left to speak for itself.

Dead at 36, Marley left everyone wanting more. But from his roots in dirt-poor Jamaica to his final days at a Bavarian cancer clinic, there couldn't be a more vibrant and appropriate celebration of his life.

A joint to be savoured.