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Magnolia Pictures has set the not-so-surprising release date of April 20 for the documentary Marley – more commonly referred to as 4/20 – but director Kevin Macdonald has already plotted the bonus material for the DVD package.
The two hour, 24-minute film will be accompanied with a disc that contains concert footage of four songs previously unseen, a 20-minute interview with Bunny Wailer, an interview with Stephen Marley that did not make it into the film and 20 minutes of people all around the world speaking about Marley and his music.
The film will be released theatrically, digitally and through video on demand simultaneously; a two-CD and three-LP soundtrack will be released April 17. There is no release date yet for the DVD.
While the film sticks closely to the story of Bob Marley‘s rise as reggae’s first international superstar, Macdonald became involved only after he had assurances from the Marley family that he would be allowed to do the film he wanted. This authorized biography was first in the hands of Martin Scorsese, who could never fit it into his schedule, and then Jonathan Demme, who went down a path that the Marley’s felt was inappropriate.
“I once made a film, about 10 years ago, with Mick Jagger,” says Macdonald, a Scottish director known for documentaries and the much-lauded “The Last King of Scotland.” “I followed him around for six months with a little camera. In the end his company was financing the movie and we disagreed about the cut. It was not a happy experience for me so I didn’t want to get into that situation again. I was very clear and they were very clear that I would make the film I wanted to make. I would listen to what they have to say but I had to have editorial control.”
Ziggy Marley, the first child of Bob and Rita Marley and the most visible musician with that iconic surname, backed up Macdonald’s take on the process.
“On some stuff I gave my opinion, but Kevin override and I say OK because I trust Kevin,” Ziggy Marley says. “He’s a director, I’m not. I did my little part to get him access (to people in Jamaica).
“I’m a movie person. I know what makes a good movie is taking that ride — laughter and the tears. When I saw the first cut, we were on the right track.”
After viewing a three-hour cut of the movie that obviously needed to be trimmed, Marley recalls, “I said don’t take out the sad stuff, because that’s the stuff you really feel deep inside of you.”
Macdonald set out to make a film that would inform the Marley children and grandchildren about Bob’s life, which led to Billboard posing the question to Ziggy Marley about which stories he had never heard. One concerned his father’s concern about his fair skin, the other about the song “Small Axe,” which has long been seen as a song about taking down corrupt governments. In reality, it was about specific people in the Jamaican music industry.
“This film is not hearsay,” Ziggy notes. “This is the real stuff here.”
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