The Last King of Trenchtown
The Last King of Scotland director, Kevin MacDonald, returns to the roots of his career with a documentary that tells the story of legendary Jamaican reggae artist Bob Marley.
From the moment it begins MacDonald cleverly employs a variety of documentary techniques to provide a fresh and thoughtful exploration of Bob Marley’s life. Archive footage, talking head interviews and specifically chosen Marley records weave a narrative around the legendary musician; from his humble beginnings in a small country village without electricity, through his rise to fame in Jamaica, to his exile in London, his subsequent return to his island of birth and eventual death at the age of just thirty-six.
The film tackles a variety of religious, political and societal issues that surrounded Marley and his career and pays particular interest to the shedding light on the Rastafarian movement. The landmark reggae musician, frequently heralded as the Third World’s first superstar, also cut a controversial figure and MacDonald is refreshingly honest in exposing both the positive and negative aspects of Bob Marley.
However, much like reggae itself the pacing is off-beat and irregular. Even if you give MacDonald the benefit of doubt that this was an intentional piece of anchorage, which results in a disjointed and muddled presentation, at over two hours it is certainly a long stretch for a documentary. Marley is such a detailed presentation that at such a hefty runtime it’s hard to see anyone other than devout Marley fans sticking with it, which is a shame because this story deserves to be told and certainly needs to be seen.