ReMastered: Who Shot the Sheriff, is a new Netflix documentary about Bob Marley’s 1976 assassination attempt, is a startling and narrowly focused film that offers a provocative new perspective on music—and music documentaries. (The film is the first in Netflix’s new ReMastered series, which features hour-long music documentaries on crimes or mysteries every month.)
Fortunately, this is not Behind the Music. By focusing his documentary on a single, significant event in Marley’s life—an unsolved crime—director Kief Davidson capitalises on the type of built-in suspense that is frequently lacking in the got-together-made-it-big-discovered-drugs-broke-up story arc that is all too usual in such films.
The story, for those unfamiliar (or those who haven’t read Marlon James’ superb A Brief History of Seven Killings, which is centred around the shooting and, though fiction, offers a highly believable portrayal of the Jamaica we see here): On December 3, 1976, two days before Marley was scheduled to perform at a massive, open-air concert for 80,000 people in Kingston, Jamaica, organised by then-Prime Minister Michael Manley in an attempt to defuse the country’s political tensions and gang violence, Marley, his wife, Rita, and manager, Don Taylor, were shot at Marley’s home on Hope Road in Kingston by a small group of unknown assailants. Marley’s wife and manager were critically hurt but recovered completely, and while Marley himself was just grazed by bullets in his chest and arm, the attack conveyed a powerful message: stay out of politics.
The incident focused the attention of the entire Jamaican population, who had already been anticipating Marley’s appearance at the Kingston concert, on the decision he now had to make: cancel his appearance and disappoint nearly an entire nation, or go ahead with it and risk another assassination attempt. I won’t go into detail here, except to say that the documentary features all of the players you’d want to hear from, most notably Edward Seaga, who subsequently became Jamaica’s prime minister but was a bitter Jamaica Labour Party rival to Manley and his People’s National Party supporters in 1976. There’s also a mysterious blurred-out character in the picture, who, together with a few other important voices, lends credibility to the widely held belief that our own CIA was involved in the attempt to bring down Marley.
Those wishing for a good, comprehensive depiction of Marley’s full life should still watch Kevin Macdonald’s 2012 film, Marley, which is over two hours long. However, for a concise history of a more strictly defined time, place, and cast of individuals, Who Shot the Sheriff? stands alone. (Further episodes of Netflix’s ReMastered series will look into the 2002 attempt on Run-D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay’s life, the utterly humiliating last night of Sam Cooke’s life, and the undeniably enthralling mystery of what happened during—and the political firestorm sparked by—Johnny Cash’s impromptu concert for Richard Nixon at the White House in 1972.)
Bob Marley: One Love
BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE honours the life and music of an icon who influenced generations with his message of love and harmony. Discover Bob’s compelling story of overcoming adversity and the journey behind his innovative music on the big screen for the first time. BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE, produced in collaboration with the Marley family and featuring Kingsley Ben-Adir as the iconic artist and Lashana Lynch as his wife Rita, will be released in theatres on February 14, 2024.
Bob Marley (1945–1981) was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician who became an international icon of reggae music. Born on February 6, 1945, in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, Marley is best known for popularizing reggae worldwide and using his music as a platform for social and political messages.
Some of Bob Marley’s most famous songs include “No Woman, No Cry,” “Redemption Song,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “Three Little Birds,” “One Love,” and “Exodus.” His music often conveyed messages of love, peace, and resistance against oppression. Marley’s association with the Rastafari movement also influenced his music and lifestyle.
Bob Marley and the Wailers, the band he formed with fellow musicians Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, gained international acclaim. Marley’s album “Exodus” is considered one of the greatest albums of all time. He received several awards for his contributions to music, and his legacy continues to influence generations of musicians and fans around the world.
Tragically, Bob Marley passed away on May 11, 1981, at the age of 36, due to complications from cancer. Despite his relatively short life, Marley’s impact on music and culture is profound, and he remains an enduring symbol of reggae and the power of music to inspire social change.