Fitting tribute to a Rasta legend

The Ulster Herald reviews Kevin McDonald´s documentary on Bob Marley.

‘Old pirates, yes they rob I…” – Google ‘Bob Nesta Marley’ and there’s a whole world of music, DVDs, live shows and commentary concerning Jamaica’s favourite son.

He’s everywhere and as his legend swells, as does the paraphernalia. However, what sets this one apart from the oodles of humdrum is a certain Kevin Macdonald, his touch, his sense of a story and ultimately his mission to bring the man not the legend to the fore.


Well, basically this is the tale – a factual tale – of Bob Marley’s conception, through to his death at the age of 36 in 1981 from cancer of the toe – and everything in-between. We learn that Bob was fathered by an English soldier, that because he wasn’t as black as his childhood friends that he was shunned and we learn that an idea to play and write music resulted in a rise to world notoriety and fame.

We learn that his loved his ganga, he basked in Rastafarianism and – to put things mildly – he wasn’t afraid to throw his love around, illegitimate kids et al. The great thing about this documentary (although there are many) is that Macdonald doesn’t shy away from the less savoury aspects of the great man’s existence. His infidelities, his distance from his children and his devotion to drugs all have their parts to play.

But for fans and even for those who are newcomers to the man, this is simultaneously a great celebration and a brilliant introduction. Bob’s music is dotted throughout, as you would expect, but it is the carefully chosen interviews from a host of those nearest and dearest to Bob that we gain the most satisfaction. Son Ziggy, wife Rita and most of the Wailers dissect a man’s legacy which grows world-wide year on year.

Thankfully too, the demise of the legend doesn’t, as they say, lose the run of itself. Macdonald reins in the melancholy and Bob’s last words about only wanting everyone to live in harmony, only add to the already fitting epitaph. ANY GOOD? What we have here is one of the finest musical documentaries ever conceived of, filmed and enjoyed. Demanding a second viewing, this will have you re-reaching for your CDs or rushing out to buy a new collection. Legend.

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