Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Bob Marley. One Love”: A film about the king of reggae – brilliant music, but lacking any edge

  • The biographical film “Bob Marley. One Love” debuted on Polish cinema screens. Kingsley Ben-Adir, known from the series “Peaky Blinders”, played the role of the reggae music icon.
  • The producers are Bob’s two children – Ziggy and Cedella Marley – and the artist’s wife Rita Marley.
  • The film celebrates the life and music of Bob Marley, who inspired generations with his message of love and unity. It’s a story about overcoming adversity and revolutionary music.

Known to everyone Bob Marley, Jamaican singercreators of such hits as “No woman, no cry” Whether “Is this love”, guitarist and composer, is called the king of reggae. He also became famous as the spiritual leader of Rastafarians and an icon of Pan-Africanism. It is surprising that the first feature biographical musical drama is only now being created, the script of which was written by the director together with Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers and Zach Baylin. Previously produced documentaries include: “Bob Marley Legend Remixed“, “Marley” and “Marley Africa Roadtrip”. For the project “Bob Marley: One Love” as producers they answer, among others: Ziggy, Orly and Rita Marley, Bob’s children. The musician died on May 11, 1981 after a battle with cancer, at the age of 36.

The film begins in 1976when Bob Marley, played by an esteemed actor Kingsley Ben-Adir (known for his role as Malcolm X in “One Night in Miami…”) is at the peak of his popularity. Jamaica is in turmoil, and Bob is torn apart by political conflicts and gang wars. Each side fights for control. Marley hopes to organize a peace concert to unite people in the idea of ​​love. However, the concert, which was only officially apolitical, put Marley in the crosshairs. Wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) warns him that he is not taking the threats seriously enough. Indeed, before the performance, his tormentors attack his house. Marley is shot but survives.

“Bob Marley: One Love” largely focuses on the next two years, as Marley flees Jamaica for London. There he experiences discrimination from the police and punk rockers, but it is also the place where he and his band begin to create their iconic album “Exodus”. His songs, filled with revolutionary content, reached millions of rebellious listeners around the world. Marley’s popularity in Jamaica meant that local politicians began to use his image for their own purposes, often without the musician’s knowledge.

First of all, this is the period in which Bob Marley begins to transcend music, becoming a messianic figure. Marley also contributed to the popularization of Rastafarianism – a religious movement that worshiped the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I. He sang about the idea of ​​​​returning Africans from the land of exile and exploitation – Babylon to the land of freedom – Zion. He believed in the power of the holy herb, smoked every day, and was recorded and punished for possessing this drug. This is why Marley did not allow himself to be operated on when cancer attacked his body. Another thing is showing your private life. The film shows that he protects and takes care of his large family, but at the same time he is less faithful to his wife. In fact, the film barely touches on his infidelity and relationship with his children, which were in fact complicated and painful for the musician’s loved ones.

Ultimately, a chaotic film with script and direction Reinald Marcus Green (author of “King Richard: The Victorious Family”) the creators are less interested in the intricacies of Marley’s personal life, and more interested in presenting him as a charismatic political leader and musician. This is due to cooperation with Marley’s family, who approved the script and produced the film. The film is closer to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, in which Queen’s members were whitewashed, or “Elvis”, where a monument was erected to the main character.

For this reason “Bob Marley: One Love” is a story about overcoming the adversities of history, which stands behind the artist’s revolutionary music. The idea is more important than commercial success, which is clearly visible in the scene when the label’s presidents ask Marley why he is not on the cover of the “Exodus” album, he replies: “because there is no reason for me to be on it.” I don’t have to tell you that the music in “Bob Marley: One Love” is amazing, and the film takes full advantage of Marley’s catalog of songs. An important part of the work on the biographical film is the set design and costumes. Anna B. Sheppard was responsible for the appropriate wardrobe of the film’s Bob Marley. – Polish costume designer living in Great Britain.

I would like to see a better film about Marley made – psychologically deeper and not so polite – with more claw and a more interesting, less formulaic narrative. But this requires a completely different scenario.


“Bob Marley: One Love”, dir. Reinaldo Marcus Green, USA 2024, distributor: UIP, cinema premiere: February 16, 2024.