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Dawn Butler reviews 'Bob Marley: One Love'

Kingsley Ben-Adir and Lashana Lynch as Bob and Rita Marley | Image by: LANDMARK MEDIA / Alamy Stock Photo

3 min read

A film celebrating the music and creativity of Bob Marley, director Reinaldo Marcus Green also places the role a strong Black woman front and centre of the story

Be prepared to immerse yourself in a film filled with love.

A movie delivered through the lens of a strong Black woman – Rita Marley – One Love is a celebration of Black love and the adage that behind every successful man is a woman holding it together.

The film exposes the layers of Bob Marley as a Rastafarian where peace, love and unity are his guiding values and the driving force for everything that he does.

Actor Kingsley Ben-Adir doesn’t try to imitate; he embraces and encompasses the different elements of Bob Marley. And, as his wife Rita, Lashana Lynch oozes confidence, compassion and a stalwartness that many women – especially Black women – will recognise.

One Love is essentially a snapshot in time, ensuring the viewer understands that they are watching a mega superstar recognised in the remotest corners of the world. Some will be asking, why and how did a Black Rastafarian conquer the mood music globally and become a symbol of peace? Especially when the establishment vilified not just Black men but Rastafarians to the extent that it was, and still is, difficult for them to be treated fairly without prejudice.

You will leave the movie feeling mellow

There’s a scene where the Rastafarians are smoothy playing the bongo drums, I thought would lead into my favourite Bob Marley tune, Rastaman Live Up!

We may not get all of the answers, but it is clear to see that Rita Marley ensured that the role of the Black woman – one could argue the main Black woman, as there were many in Bob’s life (all but Rita were left out of this movie) – was front and centre in this story.

I had forgotten the terrible fact that Rita was shot in the head and was moved to a gasp during the scene when the doctor informs her that her locks had saved her from dying.

PosterI suspect the true significance of this powerful part of the movie will probably be overlooked by many, but it is striking that the shooting of Bob himself is hardly featured, highlighting the importance of this side of the story. It is important because the role of women, especially Black women, is often erased when history books are written. This is a film filled with the resilience of women.

This is also a film that celebrates. It celebrates the music and creativity of Bob Marley, of Black women and of Jamaica.

On a political level it highlights that those in power are not necessarily the ones who should be. It will leave you with an open question: what can you do to bring peace?

You will leave the movie feeling mellow, like you have emersed yourself in the music, vibe and love of Bob Marley, strong Black women and Jamaican culture. Out of many, one people. One Love – let’s get together and feel alright. 

Dawn Butler is Labour MP for Brent Central

Bob Marley: One Love
Directed by: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Venue: General cinema release

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