There has been so much written, said and displayed about music legend Bob Marley, but his family decided it was time to bring the definitive story of his life and make it into a documentary film, titled “Marley.” The movie (directed by Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald) has been getting rave reviews from fans and critics because it does not sweep Marley’s flaws and insecurities under the rug. Instead, it is a realistic and human portrait of an extraordinary person who not only brought reggae to the masses but also had a message of peace and compassion that has influenced and resonated with countless people around the world. Marley’s untimely death from cancer at the age of 36 in 1981 has not diminished the impact that he has had.
In 2012, “Marley” had premieres at the Berlin Film Festival, the South by Southwest Film Festival, in Los Angeles and in Kingston, Jamaica, before being released in select U.S. theaters, video on demand and on Facebook on April 20, 2012. “Marley” became the first movie to be streamed on Facebook on the same day as its U.S. theatrical release. A portion of the “Marley’ Facebook streaming proceeds will go to the charity Save the Children. The “Marley” movie soundtrack includes, for the first time on an album, the 1978 One Love Peace Concert performance of “Jammin,’” during which Marley joined the hands of Jamaican political rivals Michael Manley and Edward Seaga, who both held the office of prime minister at various points of their careers.
There is a lot of previously unreleased footage and rare interviews in the film, including revelations from Neville “Bunny” Livingston (who used to be in Marley’s group the Wailers) and Dudley Sibley, who was Marley’s roommate in the early days of Marley’s career. Several of Marley’s family members, mistresses, associates, critics and admirers are also interviewed in the film. Bob Marley’s eldest son, multiple Grammy winner Ziggy Marley, is an executive producer of “Marley” and one of the people who is featured in the movie. I chatted with Ziggy Marley in this exclusive interview.
Other than deciding which footage to put in “Marley,” what was the most challenging thing about putting together this movie?
I think the most challenging thing was to kind of figure out what the objective was. There’s been a lot of things done on Bob over the years. I wanted to make this [film] something that is different and definitive. The challenge was to differentiate it from all the other things that have been done. So we had to tell the full story of Bob without sugarcoating it.
You’ve said that one of things that surprised you the most about this movie was seeing the interview footage of the nurse who was your father’s caregiver in Germany in the last weeks of his life. Can you describe what you were feeling when you saw that interview footage for the first time?
The whole story of Bob getting sick, especially his time in Germany, I didn’t know about it. I heard the story of that lady before. It was emotional hearing about those days. It made me wish I were there. It was very emotional.
A lot of people who see “Marley” will see for the first time the 1978 One Love Peace Concert where Bob Marley got Jamaican political rivals Michael Manley and Edward Seaga to go on stage and join hands. What are your memories of that time?
I’ve been around that energy. It was very exciting. It had an impact on me. It’s a revolution of man. All of the people who were around and made all of that possible were thinking revolutionary ideas of that time. It was less politically controlled by political ideas or politicians. All of that was revolutionary and exciting and a life lesson.
Island Records founder Chris Blackwell is one of the executive producers of “Marley,” and in the movie, a few of the former Wailers accused Blackwell of cheating them out of money. He did not respond to this accusation in the movie, but what has been his reaction, and did you consider having him respond in the movie to this accusation?
I think he’s used to it by now. It’s not the first time he’s hearing that. There was no [discussion]. This movie is about Bob Marley.
What was filmed for the movie that didn’t make the final cut but may end up on the DVD /Blu-ray?
There are interviews with my brother Stephen. We had to cut out other interviews and footage.
Bob Marley’s influence was truly worldwide, reaching places he never even visited. Is there any place you would like to travel as a musician that you haven’t been to yet?
A lot of the Asian countries, Russia and Poland. Those are places I would like to go to sometime.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be going on tour in the U.S. this summer [in 2012].
How does your mother feel about the “Marley” movie?
She’s good with it.
What’s the most important thing that you want audiences to get from seeing “Marley”?
So many people have knowledge of Bob already, but this is about connecting with Bob on a level where you feel even more that he is part of the family.
For more info: “Marley” website