Bob Marley, Stations Of The Cross (DVD + CD, 2009)

by | Oct 29, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Bob Marley, Stations Of The Cross (DVD + CD, 2009)

Studio: Pride/MVD Visual PG2DVD122
Video: 1.33:1
Audio: PCM Stereo
Extras: Image Gallery
Subtitles: German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch
Length: DVD: 62 minutes, CD: 77 minutes (interviews only)
Rating: **

As with most unauthorized documentaries and biographies, Stations Of The Cross offers precious little useful information about the late Bob Marley and his life, other than a few relatively meaningless reminisces from a host of unknown talking heads who seem to have barely known him. Apart from a handful of truly insightful comments from his mother, Cedella Booker and son Ziggy Marley, there’s really very little of any true interest here. The bulk of the film is filled with vintage (and quite grainy) footage of the slums of Kingston and rural Jamaica – with an occasional still of Bob Marley thrown in for good measure. There were a few news segments that covered his funeral and another that featured Prince Charles dancing to Reggae music – other than that, there’s nothing you couldn’t glean from two other excellent documentaries already out, Rebel Music and Legend. And the most important element – Bob Marley’s music – is almost completely missing, and only features tracks from very early in Bob Marley’s career, long before his true reggae style had been refined. In fact, the film recycles one tune in particular, “Small Axe,” ad nauseum – you’ll truly be sick of it by the time it rolls again over the closing credits. And the bonus CD contains no music at all, only interview segments that are offered in extremely poor sound; that, in combination with Marley’s heavy Jamaican accent, makes for a very difficult listen.

From a technical standpoint, it’s a lose-lose for everyone. Image quality is quite poor, and only offered in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio; I guess since most all the footage is archival, so they had very little choice there. But the overall image quality is worse than abysmal – it’s about the grainiest and most low-res looking DVD I’ve seen in quite some time. And the sound quality, while presented in stereo, has very little spread – it might as well be low-fi mono. As noted above, the sound quality of the accompanying CD is even worse. In terms of extras, there’s an image gallery that’s composed of about a dozen very commonly seen images of Bob Marley – it could easily have been omitted and would never be missed. And for me, especially egregious was the decision not to include an English subtitle track; some of the Jamaican dialect interviews are darn difficult to understand, and English subtitles would have been quite helpful!

This film is only for die-hard fans and completists – it’s really quite dull, and seems to run on forever, and almost totally omits the most important period in Bob Marley’s career: the important years in which he recorded his classic body of work for Island Records. This is almost bait-and-switch; the packaging is quite nice, but the content is totally unsatisfying. I’d definitely rent it before deciding to add it to your collection.

— Tom Gibbs

 

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