Film Review: Who Shot The Sheriff? A Bob Marley Story

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A Bob Marley Story








Every different genre of music has it’s king, and for reggae that king is indisputably Bob Marley. With a catalog that includes such well-known tunes as “One Love/People Get Ready,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “Jammin’,” “Could You Be Loved,” and a countless list of others all focused on bringing people together in peace and love, Marley was thrust (unwillingly) into the middle of political warfare and unrest in his homeland of Jamaica, which ultimately led to an assassination attempt on his life in 1976.

Through archival interviews with Marley, and new chats with Alvin “Seeco” Patterson of The Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Don Taylor (Marley’s manager), record label executives, government officials, and a host of others, Who Shot the Sheriff? sets out to answer the very question of who tried to kill Bob Marley?

There’s a small amount of history offered about Marley; most of which is already well-documented: he’s interracial (white father/African American mother), grew up in the Jamaican slums/ghetto of Trenchtown, he embraced the Rasta culture, etc.

Where this film stays mostly focused, though, is on Marley and his music’s peaceful impact in the middle of political unrest, and who he was and where he centered his beliefs as competing politicians tried to tug him into their corner.

We learn how careful he was to always remain politically neutral, how he opened his house as a spot where everyone could come together in peace, and how he wanted to help people be independent of the handouts from politicians.

We’re given an inside look at the shooting/assassination attempt that took place inside his home - told through photographs, newspaper clippings, and those who were there when it happened. The uneasy feeling that he had going into his “Smile Jamaica Concert” two days later is also dissected– a concert the politicians turned into something political, though it was always about bringing peace back to the country.

We see the affects that the shooting took on Marley and how he fled his own homeland and went into a self-imposed exile because of it.  And eventually, got a hero’s welcome back to Jamaica in 1978 for his “One Love Peace Concert,” in which he brought music, peace, love, a spiritual dance, and even political rivals to the stage to lock hands with one another in a show of solidarity.

Though tons of different theories are brought up regarding the assassination attempt throughout the final part of this film, it never really boils the who, what, and why’s down to a definitive answer. What Who Shot the Sheriff? does show us, however, is the incredible dangers of political unrest, but how one voice that’s willing to stand for peace in the middle of it can deliver a strong message that is as important in today’s world as it was 40 years ago.

Live performance footage in the film includes: “Get Up Stand Up,” “War,” “Ambush In The Night,” “Zimbabwe,” “Rat Race, “Jammin’,” and more!

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