Director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland,” “Touching the Void”) aims to make the definitive documentary about Jamaican music legend Bob Marley, and it would be difficult (from this non-fan’s perspective) to think of any part of Marley’s life that Macdonald leaves untouched in nearly two-and-a-half hours.
From Marley’s childhood as a mixed-race child in the poor Trench Town neighborhood of Kingston to his death from cancer in 1981, Macdonald covers it all: His discovery of the guitar, the formation of the Wailers, his work with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, his conversion to Rastafarianism, and his skyrocketing fame.
The movie sometimes gets a bit professorial (like when explaining the development of the offbeat guitar sound that is the basis of reggae), but the thorough interviews with many of Marley’s colleagues, friends and family (including wife Rita, children Ziggy and Cedella, and his former mistress, Miss World 1976 Cindy Breakspeare) paint a rounded portrait of the artist and the man. Alas, for a movie this long, it’s too bad there isn’t more footage of Marley in performance, joyously bringing music to the world.
Opens today at the Tower Theatre; rated PG-13 for drug content, thematic elements and some violent images; 144 minutes.