'Marley' a thorough look at icon

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:48 PM ET

Call it The Whole Bob Marley Catalogue.

In the documentary Marley, director Kevin Macdonald uses all 144 minutes to cram in countless reggae-fan must-hears (including the reggae icon's first single at 16, Judge Not and the early Wailers' "do-overs" of American singles like Teenager In Love) and arcana (the Wailers would play to "duppies" -- evil spirits -- in graveyards to overcome their fear of performing).

More importantly, though, he uses his ocean of archival material and testimony to connect the dots of people, places and influences, to explain how this symbol of a genre, a people and a generation came to be.

Marley is the opposite of the infuriating point-and-shoot make-up-your-own-mind documentaries. It is the work of a man with opinions, based on endless questioning and research.

From his days in a poor village outside Kingston, Jamaica, surrounded for all its poverty by breathtaking beauty, shunned by many for his mixed heritage (his absentee father was a British soldier), he moved with his mother to Kingston to live the life of a barefoot boy in Trench Town where he was exposed to both Rastafarianism and the friends, Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, who'd frame his life and experiences.

With a wealth of first-person interviews (including the reclusive and entertaining Bunny and Bob's long-suffering wife Rita), we see Marley re-cast reggae according to his outsider experiences and desire for One Love. We see his life as a factory worker in Delaware, the success, breaks with the other Wailers, womanizing, (including the 1976 Jamaican Miss World Cindy Breakspeare and the daughter of the dictator of Gabon), baby mamas, his unintended support of Jamaican PM Michael Manley (which led to Marley's getting shot), his death at 36 (from the spread of a "white man's disease" melanoma) and, his legacy.

It's hard to imagine a Marley-ite so deeply committed that they learn nothing new from Marley. For the rest of us, it's the equivalent of a vividly entertaining course in the man and his work.


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