Marley

 
Comprehensive docu on iconic reggae musician.
  • Review Date: March 28, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 145 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This documentary shows the healing and transformative power of music. It demonstrates music bringing happiness to people throughout the world, and the ability of music to bring about unity in times of deep political divisions.

Positive role models

At his core, Bob Marley was a deeply spiritual man who used his music as a vehicle in which to express an earnest desire for peace and love for all mankind. Not everyone will approve of some of his life choices, but his legacy as a musician is transcendent.

Violence

The film features news footage of Jamaica's political unrest during the 1970s as a backdrop to Bob Marley's life and career. There are riot scenes, people on the streets of Kingston shooting guns, a man getting bitten and dragged in the leg by a police dog, and a dead body on the street.

Sex

There is frank discussion of Bob Marley's sex life, and how he fathered 11 children by seven different women.

Language

Not much iffy language other than "ass."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Predictably enough to anyone familiar with Bob Marley, reggae music, and the Rastafarian religion, this documentary shows frequent marijuana use, and discussion of marijuana smoking and its relation to Rastafarians.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Marley is an excellent and comprehensive documentary on the iconic reggae musician. Unsurprising to those familiar with Marley, reggae music, and the Rastafarian religion, there are frequent pictures and videos where Marley and his band The Wailers are smoking marijuana, and there is discussion about marijuana and its role in Marley's life and Jamaican culture. There is also frank discussion of Marley's numerous affairs; he had 11 children with seven different women while married. To provide necessary context, viewers see news footage of the sometimes violent civil unrest in Jamaica in the 1970s. However, none of this overshadows the central message of the film: Bob Marley was a deeply spiritual man dedicated to making others happy with his music, and to using his music as an instrument to promote peace, unity, and love. 

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

MARLEY is the definitive documentary on the life, times, and music of iconic reggae musician Bob Marley. It follows Marley from his birth in 1945 in St. Ann, Jamaica, where he began with an outcast status because he was born to mixed-race parents, and continues to show his growing love for music. It follows Marley's early career in the 1960s, his minor hit songs in Jamaica, and a brief move to Wilmington, Delaware when he believed his musical career wasn't going anywhere. The film also shows his growing interests in the Rastafarian religion and how this informed and inspired his music, as Marley returned to Jamaica and became an international star in the 1970s, as his homeland descended into political unrest, even leading to an assassination attempt on Marley. Exiled in London, Marley continued to create music loved by millions; a homecoming concert culminated in a dramatic on-stage display of unity between the leaders of two warring political factions. The film documents Marley's world-wide success, concern over Third World injustice, and his untimely death at age 36 of cancer.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Marley is a comprehensive and ultimately moving documentary of the man who is still -- several decades after his death -- the face most associated with reggae music. What emerges from the interview footage with those who knew him best and the video footage of Bob Marley and the Wailers concerts is a man inspired to use his music as a way to spread peace throughout the world, and to raise awareness of the plight of the Third World.

News footage of Jamaica's independence in 1962, of Haile Selassie (considered to be a god to Rastafarians) arriving in Jamaica, and the civil unrest throughout Jamaica during the 1970s provides the context for Marley's concerns as expressed in his songs and his concerts. For those with only a familiarity with Bob Marley songs and a bare bones idea of Jamaican culture, you can expect to learn many things about the ups and downs in Marley's life as he became an international superstar before his life ended much too soon. Simply put: It is an informative and inspiring tribute to a beloved artist.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the power of art and music. What does this documentary say about music and its power to transcend cultures and politics? What role does art play in politics throughout history?

  • What challenges do you think the filmmakers faced in presenting Bob Marley's life and music, as well as Jamaican culture, religion, and politics?

  • What are the different cinematic tools the filmmakers use to tell Bob Marley's story? Which do you think are the most effective?

Movie details

DVD release date:August 7, 2012
Cast:Bob Marley, Rita Marley, Ziggy Marley
Director:Kevin Macdonald
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Genre:Documentary
Topics:Arts and dance, History, Music and sing-along
Run time:145 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:drug content, thematic elements, and some violent images

This review of Marley was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass