MOVIE REVIEW : 'Marley': An Exhilarating Tribute


It is impossible to watch the stirring, exhilarating tribute "Bob Marley: Time Will Tell" (at the NuWilshire for one week) without experiencing a profound sense of loss. Marley's passionate songs asserting black dignity and equality as well as freedom and justice for all couldn't be more timely for Los Angeles audiences right now.

Born in Jamaica in 1945 of a white father and a black mother, Marley said that he didn't take sides--that he was for everybody. To see this film is to realize anew that Marley really had it all: spectacular looks, talent, charisma, courage, wit, humor, energy and a firm Rastafarian faith that allowed him to take the moral high ground, to preach unity above the level of politics, which he regarded as dividing people rather than bringing them together. Marley died in 1981 at the age of 36.

Producer Rocky Oldham and director Declan Lowry have restricted themselves entirely to archival footage of Marley in performance and in interviews, overlaying at times his words and music with newsreel material of Kingston, revealing the dire poverty and political unrest--plus glimpses of natural island beauty--that is so characteristic of Jamaica. The filmmakers were fortunate that they had so much material--and that Marley was such an open, candid and so frequently accessible an interviewee--but they and their colleagues deserve credit for what must have been a formidable job of selection and assembly. "Bob Marley: Time Will Tell" comes together with the ease and joy of a Marley song.

Twenty-six Marley songs are featured in the film, including "I Shot the Sheriff," "War," "Trenchtown Rock," "No Woman No Cry" and "Exodus." We hear Marley and his band the Wailers performing them before ecstatic audiences the world over. "Bob Marley: Time Will Tell" (Times-rated Family) does offer the consolation that Marley did leave a rich musical legacy that has only gained in impact with the passing of time--indeed, time has told.

'Bob Marley: Time Will Tell'

An I.R.S. release of an Island Visual Arts and PolyGram Video International presentation of an Initial Film and Television production. Director Declan Lowry. Producer Rocky Oldham. Executive producers Neville Garrick, Malcolm Gerrie. Editors Peter Bensimon, Tim Thornton-Allan. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Times-rated: Family.

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