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Subversive Cinema presents Caprice. Running time: 90 minutes. Unrated. Theatrical release Dec. 26, 1982. DVD released Jan. 30, 2007.
Hundreds of camera crews swarmed around the funeral of Anna Nicole Smith in the Bahamas. But 1981 only one camera crew captured the funeral of Bob Marley, the man who unleashed Reggae on the world. This film gives us an extraordinary view of how an international icon was laid to rest and the Jamaica he left behind.
The funeral footage is stunning. The camera gets tight with the crowd. The ceremony was almost a concert including bootleggers outside the gates selling t-shirts for the event. The biggest profiter at the funeral must have been the guy with the rolling paper concession. These folks put the Deadheads to shame. After the funeral, Marley’s casket was loaded into the back of a small truck and driven across the island to his burial site. The camera shows that nearly every citizen was lined up on the side of the roads to pay tribute to Marley.
The documentary’s core is coverage of Bob Marley’s funeral. But this is not a VH1 Behind the Music special. There’s no barrage of talking heads and quick clips from the Reggae legend’s career. Instead we are treated to a rambling tour of Jamaica that stays far away from the resort hotels on the beach. The locals give us a sense of the world that Bob Marley emerged from. We visit the jungles, shanty towns and rugged urban streets. We linger with the locals. There are plenty of academics that could deliver dry explainations about the Rastas and Marley. But we’re better served by going straight to the source. You get to make up your own mind about this culture while hanging out in their bedrooms. If you desires a more background about what’s being show, switch over to the commentary track as director Alan Greenberg and Werner Herzog discuss the film.
Greenberg and cinematographer Jorg Schmidt-Reitwein act as quiet of observers and gracious guests of the Jamaicans. They let their subjects talk and not bust them down into snippets. It’s a leisurely paced film. There are subtitles because it’s really hard to keep up with the Rastas. Their English dialect involves them saying “I” as much as an employee at the Apple store. The locals are nice hosts to the camera crew (although on the audio commentary Greenberg points out scary moments) . One shows off a rare pineapple toad. Others enjoy speaking about their spiritually as they smoke up on the ganja.
There should be a major warning on the DVD. If you are in rehab for marijuana abuse or currently being drug tested as part of your probation – do not watch Land of Look Behind. The people featured in this film smoke so much ganja on camera that they make Cheech and Chong look like amateurs. You might have a relapse.
This is a great DVD for anyone who thinks that just owning a copy of Bob Marley’s Legend cd isn’t enough. If you wonder what a vacation would be like if you went off the beaten path in Jamiaca, here’s your answer. Greenberg made a documentary that allows his subjects to breathe. Luckily there’s so much to inhale.
The film was shot on 16mm in harsh conditions. The grain is visible. They’ve gone through a lot to clean up the image, but it is far from pristine. The picture is 1.78:1 anamorphic.
The soundtrack is Mono. Th sound is rather rough with the field recordings. The levels are good enough so you don’t have to crank the system. The audio commentary track features Greenberg and Werner Herzog. Norman Hill, the producer of the DVD does an exceptional job at keeping them talking and explaining elements including the title. There are plenty of weird stories about the crew being kidnapped at gunpoint and a producer stealing the budget. The subtitles are in English.
Exploring Land of Look Behind (24:21) has director Alan Greenberg explaining how the film came around. The ghost of Bob Marley requested he make the film.
Working with Herzog (18:01) explores how Greenberg dropped everything to work with Herzog in Germany.
Cast & Crew Bios are short text pieces on various folks in the project.
The Soundtrack has 18 tracks that mixes audio from the film with reggae songs from Bob Marley and the Wailers.
The Inside Pulse
Modern documentaries have turned into way too many quick edits and talking heads explaining everything. Land of Look Behind brings us back to a time when a documentary allows us to experience the subject instead of squeezing the essential elements out of them.