American Masters: Season 15, Episode 5

Bob Marley: Rebel Music (14 Feb. 2001)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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Profile of the life and music of the legendary reggae singer.


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Title: Bob Marley: Rebel Music (14 Feb 2001)

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Profile of the life and music of the legendary reggae singer.

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14 February 2001 (USA)  »

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A priceless - but not perfect - memorial
21 October 2003 | by (Ocho Rios, JA) – See all my reviews

Since its relatively recent release, Jeremy Marre's "Rebel Music" has become the definitive video biography of Bob Marley. While it is certainly a moving piece, with a number of never-before-seen (or heard) snippets about the King Of Reggae, the film comes off as a bit lazy in parts. Marre uses inexperienced actors to portray scenes from Jamaican life while the narrator (whose British [not Jamaican] accent has been a point of contention among viewers) describes Marley's - and Jamaica's - struggles. The filmmakers also loop and/or re-use the same scenes from live performances or videos. Marre attempts to make a seamless music video out of these snippets, and the result is an obvious patchwork quilt (Marley and the Wailers make the exact same gestures and movements that we saw just a moment ago) that simply looks shoddy. A minimalist approach might have worked better -- just using the available video and letting it play. The highlights of "Rebel Music" are its candid interviews with Bob, especially the one which took place on a sundeck overlooking the Caribbean. Particularly enlightening is Marley's diatribe about "the herb" and society's witless condemnation of it. Fans of Marley, reggae, Jamaica, and freedom, should not let this piece pass them by, flaws and all. Despite its shortcomings, the subject of Marre's work is just too powerful NOT to watch. Make an effort to see this film. Hats off to Marre for accepting the risks involved in portraying such a sacred "Legend", and for the most part, succeeding.

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