“None but ourselves can free our mind”
I’m from Jamaica. Let’s make this clear. I remember many a Sunday afternoon spent in the back seat of my father’s car being forced as a child to listen to all manners of music and endure a number of lectures, anecdotes and factoids of the history of the music. One of those things that he lectured about was Bob Marley.
To say that I walk into this movie with knowledge and an already decided perception would be an understatement. Kevin Macdonald found a way to inform me on a topic that I felt foolish enough to think I knew all there was to basically know about him. In Jamaica I live a stone’s throw away from his uptown home, now a tour guided attraction, and I had never visited it until I two years ago, so I guess that’s evidence enough that I could do with a little more education on the topic of Robert Nesta Marley.
The film takes us from the beginning, with discussions of Bob’s father and mother, and showing us his former home in Nine Miles, St. Ann, and takes us through the entire of his life through interviews and historical information from news paper clippings and video recordings to Bob’s eventual death in 1981.
It would be another five years before I would be worn when Bob Marley died, so to say “I wasn’t there” would be obvious. So when I see things like the response to his death being equal, and in some ways even greater effect on me since I feel this connection with the film being a Jamaican, to those I’ve seen in my lifetime, like Princess Diana, Christopher ‘Notorious BIG’ Wallace, or even Ayrton Senna when I saw the documentary on him last year, is just so unmistakably effective as a moment when a nation just stops to take a breath and endure emotion with a nation that usually doesn’t do such things.
I’ve been told time and time again about the moment of Bob bringing Michael Manley and Edward Seaga together in the 70s on stage during a free concert, and I understood what the implications of that moment meant knowing the context, but I don’t think I’ve ever really felt it until I was able to see the event happen in front of me through the footage shown in the film. The moment where I can only felt the hope that was being disseminated across the country that’s been riddled with political violence, and still is, seeing these two men on the opposing sides in so many walks of life holding hands with Bob saying the words “love, prosperity, be with us all”. You just hoped that everyone who’s on those front lines doing the killing would realize that life doesn’t have to be like that.
This is a film filled with moments that all bring hope and joy into your life. It brings you back to that time with Marley asking you to pass through his life as best as we all remember it. From discussions about him as a father with his son David “Ziggy” Marley, a husband with his wife Rita Marley, a colleague with Bunny Wailer and more and it is a wonderful passage.