Thursday, 7 June 2012

Revolutionary Love

We went recently to the Corner House cinema in Manchester to see Marley, a film documentary on the life and times of Bob Marley. I thought that this was a fantastic film comprising archive film footage of his performances, interviews with people who knew him, and original film clips of some of the other great moments in his life. Without any hesitation I would recommend that you should go and see this film if you get the chance. If I was asked to sum up this film on the life of Bob Marley into a few short words I would say that it's about revolutionary love. It seemed to me as I watched the film unroll and illustrate the life of Bob Marley that we were being given an insight into the mind, thoughts and actions of a great man who had a message for the world.

Bob Marley wrote and sang fantastic songs about love, compassion and revolution, about a new world that is possible. He wrote the song, I Shot the Sheriff and Eric Clapton's version of this song helped catapult him to fame. Songs we will remember like Buffalo Soldier, One Love/People Get Ready, No Woman No Cry and Get Up Stand Up - are profound and inspiring songs. In Get Up Stand Up he tells us to get up and stand up for our rights not to give up the fight and that religion is not a private affair that has no relationship to what's happening in the world but something we should be involved with in the here and now in daily struggle:

Preacher man don't tell me
Heaven is under the Earth
I know you don't know
what life is really worth
it's not all that glitters is gold
half the story has never been told
so now you see the light
stand-up for your rights.

But Bob Marley's words were also translated into deeds. He eschewed personal wealth in favour of people, his generosity was legendary. He gave the songwriter credits to the song, No Woman No Cry to his friend, Vincent Ford who ran a soup kitchen in Trenchtown. The royalties ensured that the soup kitchen could remain open. In 1976 right wing gun men, loyal to the Jamaica Labour Party, attacked and injured Marley and his friends and they were forced to flee to Britain. But he returned in 1978 at the request of the government of Jamaica where he staged the One Love Peace Concert, at Kingston’s National Stadium, it was a symbolic moment of national reconciliation. And in 1980 he performed at the celebration event of Zimbabwe's national independence in Harare.

The film as I am sure you have no doubt gathered was a joy to watch. At 36 years of age Bob Marley had so much more to do and so much to look forward to. He was intent on further touring in America and performing to new audiences. Sadly, as we know this was not to be, by 1980 he was sick with cancer having contracted a malignant melanoma which in the end proved to be fatal. The film deals with these remaining days of his life in some detail. Bob Marley died in hospital in Miami in 1981. (The film) Marley has received very positive reviews because it has served to reveal a Bob Marley who spoke out for the poor and the oppressed; he was a man who worshipped God in his own way, and in a faith of his own choosing. He said, 'My life is only important if I can help plenty of people. 'In my life, there's just me and my own security. There'd be no wanting. My life is the people.' And when asked, 'Are you a rich man? You have a lot of possessions? He replied Possessions make you rich? I don't have those types of riches; my riches are life.

What a blessing the cinema is and what a privilege it is to see such great films.