Marley Blu-ray Review

In business, some brands are so synonymous with their product; they actually replace functional title when referencing it.  Examples would be Xerox for a copy or copy machine, Google for search engines, or Velcro for hook and loop adhesive strips.  With music, if the mood for reggae strikes, you simply say, “put on some Marley.”

Marley 1MARLEY documents the legendary figure Nesta Robert Marley from Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica’s brief but incredibly meaningful life.  Bob Marley has, is and always will be the greatest legend of the reggae genre.  Becoming even more famous after his death, Marley’s iconic aura and the righteous tone of his messages continue to inspire millions around the world, but this incredibly informative documentary illustrates what drove and made the man who he was, for better or worse.

Bob Marley

Director Kevin Macdonald (THE EAGLE, LIFE IN A DAY) includes interviews with Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker and other family members focusing on Marley’s biracial background and estrangement from his father.  But his father is not the only one Marley felt distant from.  This film shows a man who seemed to be living in a state of “limbo,” feeling like an outsider from both the black and white cultures.  This is what seemed to give way to his embracement of Rastafarianism, which is a reflection of personal independence.

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Following the standard documentary formula, the film spends time on Marley’s poor upbringing and childhood in Jamaica.  Macdonald was able to track artifacts from Marley’s life that no one even knew existed, such as the broken down shack where Marley napped on breaks from working the fields.  But Marley’s early days are merely an appetizer to the filet mignon of his adult personal life. Although this is an authorized telling of Marley’s life, Macdonald still adds in spirited commentary from Marley’s friends, colleagues, wives, gangsters, politicians and of course more from his mother.

For purist only interested in the music, this film is still a must watch, as it runs down the story of the Wailers, Bob’s band who took their name from the wailing misery of their childhoods, and how they developed a new faction of music which eventually led Marley to travel to Europe, Africa and the United States.  There is also no shortage of play of the timeless songs that made Marley a virtual demigod amongst his faithful fan base.

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Another important part of the Bob Marley persona was his involvement, or lack thereof, in politics.  Even though Marley himself held no allegiance to a single political party, his symbol and what he stood for was utilized by many.  Growing so powerful that in 1976, there was an assassination attempt on his life which caused Marley to go into exile.

As educative as MARLEY is, the man himself still remains somewhat of a mystery, never really submitting to an unguarded interview.  However, you are still left with a very vivid impression of his life and the transformation from an apprentice composer who made his own instruments into a worldwide and historical icon.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video:  Aspect Ratio 1.78:1, 1080p: In a documentary the final product is made up of a wide variety of sources, especially when the subject lived mostly secluded and passed away over 30 years ago, so the video quality on this disc varies as well.  The interview footage is mostly crisp with good contrast but the concert material is very grainy and dark.

Audio:  DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: Same thing here as with the video.   The more modern scenes have very good sound while the older more archival footage delivers the stereotypical hissing that all old footage makes when being depicted on modern television or films.

Commentary with Director Kevin Macdonald and Ziggy Marley:  Director Kevin Macdonald starts off this commentary and does a fine job adding in even more info about the legendary singer, then the whole thing gets handed off to Ziggy Marley (Bob’s son) about an hour in.  Ziggy was not nearly as good as Macdonald as he left long gaps in the commentary and declaring that he couldn’t comment on some issues due to the “politics” involved.

Around the World (19 min):  Marley’s music covered by people from all around the world.  This is the quintessential demonstration of the reach that Marley’s music had across the globe.

Extended Interview with Bunny Wailer (19 min):  Deleted scenes from the interview with Bunny Wailer.  The only thing less relevant than deleted scenes from a movie are deleted scenes from an interview.

Children’s Memories: Additional Interviews with David “Ziggy” Marley, Stephen Marley and Cedella Marley (10 min):  More deleted interview scenes with Bob’s children reminiscing on life with their famous dad.

Listening to “I’m Loose” (4 min): People listen to a recording of Marley flirting with women. This is actually very interesting as his womanizing is legendary but you never really got to see or hear it first-hand.

Photo Gallery:  Production stills and archived photographs.

SiriusXM: Ziggy Marley’s “Legends of Reggae” (2 min):  An audio commercial for Bob’s son Ziggy Marley’s satellite radio show on SiriusXM with a brief appearance by Jimmy Cliff.

Marley Soundtrack (1 min):  Advertising the film’s soundtrack.

Visit Jamaica (2 min):  An ad for Jamaica tourism.

Theatrical Trailer (2 min)

OVERALL 3.5
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