Since Martin Scorsese made a beautiful movie about the life of the Dalai Lama, I shouldn’t be taken aback by his decision to take on a Bob Marley documentary. Musically, Scorsese has always been adventurous (often with the help of Robbie Robertson), and he has employed a very little bit of reggae in his films (e.g. Burning Spear’s “I and I Survive (Slavery Days)” in Bringing out the Dead); still, he just seems an odd fit with the Marley family. Maybe it’s because he’s white and they’re black.
Seriously, I don’t know why this seems out of character, but if the currently untitled documentary is anywhere on the level of No Direction Home, it’ll be one of 2010’s best. And, yes, that’s how long you’re going to have to wait for Scorsese’s celebration of Marley’s life (which ended far too soon in 1981 at the age of thirty-six). I’m guessing this is due to his previously announced George Harrison documentary, although I haven’t heard a peep about that since last September; I sure hope that hasn’t been backburnered.
In terms of narrative, Marley offers Scorsese a much more lively and incendiary subject than Harrison; Marley was a voice of peace during turbulent times in Jamaica, and caught at least one serious beating for his assuaging efforts. I’m sure Scorsese will also delve into Marley’s Rastafarian religious beliefs; hell, maybe the Catholic-raised auteur will get so immersed that he’ll convert. I’d love to see him dread what hair he’s got left.
As you can probably tell, I’m not much of an expert on Marley. I love the music, but never felt compelled to read up on the man (beyond magazine articles and the like). I’m also probably one of the few white kids to ever make it through four years of college without hanging a poster of Marley puffing on a fatty. I did, however, have a killer Daryl Dawkins poster. And, hey, I like to think he tore down rims like Marley tore down intolerance.
Martin Scorsese’s Untitled Bob Marley Documentary will be released on February 6, 2010, which would’ve been the musician’s sixty-fifth birthday.