Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

REVIEW: ‘Bob Marley: One Love’ is a take on family, God and revolution

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

On my way to the Regal Warren West movie theater, I reminisced how I grew up with what my mom liked to call her “soul music,” which consisted of artists like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Marley and pretty much anyone who performed at Woodstock 1969 or was big in the 1970s. From a young age, I was drawn to the laid-back vibe and messages of peace, love and unity these artists conveyed.

After years of listening to Bob and Ziggy Marley’s music, I realized I didn’t actually know that much about Marley, the father of 11 children. When I saw the trailer for “Bob Marley: One Love,” I knew I had to see it. 

To begin the story of a peace-loving man, the “Bob Marley: One Love” film begins in 1976 in a politically violent Jamaica. Most of that violence was gang-related and took place in poverty-stricken communities. 

These gangs were linked to the two parties of the country, the democratic socialist People’s National Party and the conservative Jamaica Labour Party, which were locked in conflict. Both parties, as depicted in the film, paid off crime bosses in gangs to assassinate important figures and kill, injure and displace thousands of ordinary people. This portrayal underscores the devastating consequences of political corruption and violence on the lives of innocent citizens.

At the beginning of the film, Robert Nesta Marley (Bob Marley), played by actor Kingsley Ben-Adir, is gearing up to perform at a concert called Smile Jamaica to advocate for peace. His profound lyrics have always resonated deeply with me, echoing the Jamaican people’s longing for peace. Similar to Woodstock 1969, Marley’s music serves as a unifying force, inspiring collective action. Just as music was pivotal during and after the Vietnam War with Woodstock, Marley’s performance is poised to drive political and social change. 

Before Marley’s concert could even take place, he, his wife, and other band members were shot in their home, resulting in hospitalization. Despite the ordeal, they managed to recover and perform the concert just in time. Subsequently, Marley decides to send his wife and children to live in the U.S. out of concern for their safety following the event. 

Out of this tragic violence, Reggae music and the Rastafari religion emerged. In my view, Marley’s upbringing and musical influences played a crucial role in shaping him into the driving force behind the Reggae music movement, blending native Jamaican styles with rock and soul music elements. The heartache and spiritual mark of this event on Marley was portrayed really well by actor Ben-Adir.

In the film, viewers are taken on a compelling journey through Bob’s entire life, beginning with his early ventures into the music industry alongside The Wailing Wailers, eventually evolving into Bob Marley and the Wailers. 

The struggle to secure a recording studio in Jamaica proves to be immensely challenging, which perhaps ignites Marley’s ability to aspire for more later in the film, such as a tour in Africa. It was an essential moment for Marley when One Studio label offered him and his band a chance, marking a turning point in Marley’s trajectory. His whole journey truly encapsulates Marley’s resilience and unwavering determination to transcend obstacles in pursuit of his musical aspirations.

Marley’s upbringing was far from easy, marked by strained relations with both his mother and father in the film. His father, a white Jamaican, rejected him, while his mother sought opportunities in the United States, leaving Marley to fend for himself in Jamaica. Despite the challenges of youth and independence, I can tell that he overcame that adversity to carve out a path for himself.

Marley isn’t alone for long, which speaks volumes of the power of love in his life’s narrative. He met his future wife, Alfarita Constantia “Rita” Anderson, played by actress Lashana Lynch, in Kingston, Jamaica, and they tied the knot in 1966. Shortly after, they welcomed their first child, Ziggy. 

Ziggy followed in his father’s prestigious musical footsteps, embarking on his own musical journey. He formed Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers with his siblings Sharon, Cedella, and Stephen. Their latest hit, “Circle of Peace,” featured on Ziggy’s Circle of Peace 2024 tour, exemplifies the enduring legacy of the Marley family’s commitment to spreading messages of harmony and unity through music. 

In my opinion, this multi-generational legacy captures the profound impact of Bob Marley’s influence on both his family and the world at large. When Bob and Rita are separated, actor and actress Ben-Adir and Lynch display the unruly aspects of being apart, with trust issues and infidelity in their marriage.

In the film, shortly after he marries his wife, Rita, she introduces Marley to Rastafarianism, a religion that emerged in Jamaica in the 1930s, igniting a profound spiritual awakening in his music. For Marley, it’s more than just melodies; it’s a transformative force intended to challenge societal norms and provoke self-observation. 

His music transcends mere entertainment as a way to test our values and perspectives. While Rastafarianism draws parallels with Judeo-Christianity, Rastafarian followers praise Jah over God and use marijuana spiritually. 

I don’t align with the spiritual use of marijuana, but I do find solace in traditional Christian prayer and a relationship with God. His songs aren’t necessarily calling on any one religion or belief system. His songs simply reverberate with a profound wisdom that challenges the divine essence that provides solace and tranquility amid the chaos of existence. Every song used in the movie soundtrack was by The Wailers or Bob Marley and the Wailers.

After watching “Bob Marley: One Love,” I can say it perfectly encapsulated the presence of a man I grew up listening to.

View Comments (1)
About the Contributor
Cheyanne Tull
Cheyanne Tull, Reporter
Cheyanne Tull is a first year reporter, photographer and illustrator for The Sunflower. Tull is double majoring in graphic design and journalism & media production. She hopes to work for outdoor publications in the future combining creativity, nature, and rock climbing. Tull uses she/her pronouns.

Comments (1)

All The Sunflower Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • W

    William McKenzieApr 11, 2024 at 10:17 am

    Bob Marley’s aim was always to unite Jamaica with, not only Africa, but with the rest of the world. Hence his song One Love being voted song of the century!

    What goes around comes around so the area known as Trench Town which nurtured many other Reggae musicians is noted to be featuring on the social media platform presently, with many participants emerging from Africa and drawing attention to Trench Town, the proposed future home of the Reggae Hall of Fame institution!