Palm Pictures // 2008 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // March 13th, 2008
A celebration of Bob Marley's vision.
Bob Marley has become an enduring symbol for both Africa and the Caribbean. He popularized reggae music and believed that racism and injustice were best battled by music and love. While he didn't reach the full peak of his fame until after his death, it's easy now to see the legacy that he has left for the world.
In 2005, a huge concert was assembled in Ethiopia with several goals. First, artists from around the world wanted to celebrate Bob Marley's life and music. Also, it was an opportunity to encourage the young generation of Africa to unite for a better collective future. This documentary chronicles the 12-hour concert, as well as showing some of the social work that has been done to affect positive change in African nations.
I should probably note right away that this is not a concert DVD. The focus here isn't on the musical presentation, but rather on the people who made the concert possible, and their work in the African community. If your hope is to see the concert itself, this documentary will be a bit of a disappointment. The songs we do get to see here are cut short, and there is less than an hour of concert footage placed as a special feature. Many fans of Bob Marley would probably love to get their hands on the actual concert, but this is not that DVD release.
As a celebration of Marley's legacy, however, it's a very inspirational offering. We all know there are terrible things happening in Africa, but there are some wonderful things happening, too. In most African nations, the massive majority of the population is young, and activism like this gets right to that new generation of African people. As these young people begin to work together, take control of the continent's politics, and seek their own solutions to problems, Africa could transform from a continent of poverty to a continent of power. With more work and attention like this, that goal could truly be reached. Bob Marley would undoubtedly be proud that his life had a major impact on not only music, but also on work like this.
The video transfer successfully shows off the brilliant colors of Africa, but it's lacking in other areas. There's a surprising amount of color bleeding for a new transfer, and it also lacks clarity. The sound transfer is better, a 5.1 track that has a pleasant level of depth. This is especially true of the concert footage, which left me wanting much, much more. The additional concert footage has the same sound transfer, albeit at a low bit rate. There are other special features as well, including a rough performance by Marley from 1980, and a number of interviews with the Marley family. All of these extras are letterboxed, which explains the lack of clarity in the actual film, which was simply blown up as an anamorphic release.
Even though this isn't truly a concert DVD, it will prove to be an encouraging and heartwarming experience for people interested in African issues, Bob Marley's life, or international aid issues in general. While that isn't what I was expecting, it's not unwelcome either. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Palm Pictures
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional Concert Footage
* "Africa Unite Ghana" Preview
* Archival Bob Marley Footage