Entertainment and Arts

‘Bob Marley: One Love’ will Appeal to Fans of the Rastafari Star

By: Russ Matthews

When people say the name Bob Marley, most may know his music, while many would be able to connect with the legend that he left behind.

His rise to becoming an almost mythic music figure in history was borne out of his life, inspired by his homeland of Jamaica. Yet, since his untimely death in 1981, few people know as much about how this reggae icon became the man many now know only by memories of those who knew him.

After helming the story of Richard Williams in the biopic King Richard, director Reinaldo Marcus Green follows that award-winning project up with his vision of the ephemeral and significant life of a music legend that many called Skip (Kingsley Ben-Adir). He chooses to begin Marley’s story on 3 December 1976, when an assassination attempt occurs on the singer and his family. Despite his family surviving the threat to their lives, the singer left Jamaica to explore new avenues for his music and test reggae on the world stage. As Bob and the Wailers do the work to record the future megahit album, Exodus, the singer/songwriter must learn to balance his personal and professional life. His wife, Rita (Lashana Lynch), convinces him to return to his roots and homeland to share his music and faith with the people of Jamacia.

Fans of the legendary singer will enjoy the backstory behind many of Marley’s famous tunes and many of the stories of his lifestyle. This includes a deep dive into the Rastafari faith that influenced most of his adult life and music. For those who have only recently come to appreciate the works of this artist, the timeline may be difficult to traverse as Reinaldo Marcus Green takes the audience back and forth through the years to unravel Marley’s eventful existence. This includes staying true to his dialect, which may have deserved subtitles. Still, even without understanding the dialogue, audiences should be able to get the overall feel of his biography. Yet, unlike recent music-inspired biopics, Rocketman or Bohemian Rhapsody, Kingsley Ben-Adir doesn’t perform the music of his on-screen persona. Granted, the young actor does his best to personify the music legend, but fails to rise to the occasion with his musical prowess. This aspect and the disjointed timeline of Bob Marley: One Love make this a film that will appeal to the devout fans of the vocalist while leaving most audiences a bit flat instead of feeling the love.

Reel Dialogue: A mixed bag of faith

Bob Marley One Love movie images

One aspect that stood out throughout the film is the expression of the Rastafari faith in Bob Marley’s life. Though the storyline shows that he went through different degrees of devotion to this belief system, this was a narrative thread that remained throughout the movie. Yet, what was confusing was how they admired the Bible, but the name of Jesus was never mentioned.

The Rastafari beliefs are based on Jah, who represents a twisted version of the biblical God. Many may need to realise why Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, was referenced in Marley’s story. Simply put, he was regarded by the Rastafarian community as the Second Coming of Jesus and Jah incarnate. There is more to this interpretation of the origins of this Jamaican belief system. Still, it could be misunderstood to be a branch of Christianity.

There are different ways to identify a cult. Yet, the key to many, including Rastafarianism, is they deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Their teachings and principles lead people away from the centrality of Jesus. They are based on the teachings of the author or leader of the organisation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The Bible teaches that faith in Christ, plus nothing else, equals salvation. While other signs define a cult, this is a crucial point that should deter people from being involved with these groups. If you are wondering how the Bible is effectively interpreted, contact the team at Third Space. We would love to chat with you about this and more.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie stills

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

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