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Movie review: 'Marley'

Movie review: “Marley”
Oklahoman Published: June 6, 2012

Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland,” “The Eagle”) does not shy away from touchy subjects such as Marley's multiple infidelities, including with Jamaica's 1976 Miss World winner, Cindy Breakspeare (mother of Damian “Junior Gong” Marley), but Rita Marley was and is matter-of-fact about her husband's wanderings — both women were at his side when he died. The director also offers some fascinating footage of Marley making the wrong choices during his African tour, playing at the invitation of dictators such as Gabonese President Omar Bongo and Robert Mugabe, of Zimbabwe.

These details are presented in a straightforward, scandal-free tone: Macdonald takes a journalistic view of these stories, which serves to re-humanize Marley after years in which he was exalted as a symbol, the fallen leader of a movement, and eventually as a kind of brand name. The final 20 minutes of “Marley” are a direct and painful description of his final months, when a melanoma on one of his toes metastasized. Marley passed out while jogging in Central Park after a New York City concert, and underwent experimental treatment in Germany.

He died on May 11, 1981, and was given a state funeral in Jamaica, and the footage of mourners at the close of the film signals the point where Bob Marley became a kind of reggae demigod. But “Marley” is far more exceptional for showing who this man was before he became the legend.

George Lang

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