People tend to remember history in a way that accommodates them best, and such fickle notions shimmer greater when remembering someone else. Thankfully, director Kevin Macdonald (Last King Of Scotland) turns in a masterful, unbiased documentary in Marley, co-produced by the late legend’s son Ziggy Marley and with around 60 personal interviews from friends and family.

By showcasing Marley’s life through intimate and rare footage, we get a glimpse of a man that struggled with acceptance his whole life. Offset by coming from a mixed background (his father was a British Army Private), having music execs try to change his name to Adam Marley, and a brilliant segment where Macdonald plays a rare song for Marley’s distant cousins that he apparently wrote after being shunned at reconnecting with their father (his uncle), the late singer persevered through constant exclusion with his Rastafarian faith and mystical sound.

At times, scarce of much of his musical repertoire, Marley presents itself as a testament to why he became an international movement by disrobing the elements that led to the actual music. From snippets of his creative process, his militaristic edict and a disciplinarian attitude towards his children, many might be surprised at how stern Marley was. Macdonald even delves into Marley’s legendary ‘ladies man’ image by interviewing several of his girlfriends and friends who claim that he was relatively shy, but that women relentlessly came on to him (Marley fathered 11 children from seven different women). Yet this is precisely why the film succeeds, although in full cooperation from the Marley estate, it never shies away from the heavier subjects of its portrayal.

The socio-political aspect of the film cannot be denied. From the opening shoreline sequence in Ghana where a large part of African slaves were shipped out to the Americas, to the concert for the Independence of Zimbabwe, and the shootouts in a heavily politically divided Jamaica, Macdonald portrays Marley as more than a musical revolutionary, but rather as a harbinger of hope for the oppressed masses.

The special features in the disc showcase a healthy dose of extra interviews with family and friends, a fun and interesting commentary from Ziggy and Macdonald, and an important look at how Marley’s music has affected the whole world by showing people from many different continents enthused with the musician’s lyrics and legacy. Coupled with a photo gallery and some extra songs and trailers, the disc is thoroughly supplemented for a complete package.

Marley believed that he had a divine mission to bring a voice to those who did not have one. Through an endless plight and an ensuing dishonor that plagues many communities, especially those in lands with corrupt governments, the freedom-inspired spirit and musicality of one man is more than enough to change the way we think and see ourselves in the landscape of modern society. Macdonald has delivered a gem of a documentary that inspires and leaves us in awe of the spellbinding and brave legend of Bob Marley.

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