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Content Caution

Bob Marley One Love 2024


In Theaters


Home Release Date




Kennedy Unthank

Movie Review

“Apparently, I’ve been associating with someone who could destabilize the country.”

So says record producer Chris Blackwell regarding Bob Marley.

It’s 1976, and political violence in Marley’s nation of Jamaica is rampant. The People’s National Party and the Jamaican Labour Party fight for control of the unstable country, and hundreds of people are killed in the squabble for control.

It’s why the Smile Jamaica concert was organized—a politically neutral attempt to unify the country—not behind a political candidate, but against political violence.

Well, not everyone in the country saw it that way, especially when Prime Minister Michael Manley of the PNP moved the general election to just 10 days after the event—making the event seem like it was in support of him. So, when Bob Marley agreed to play at the event, many feared the worst.

And they were right.

Two days before the concert, Bob, his wife, Rita, and many other band members were shot at by assassins. And though they all survived their wounds, it left a lasting impact on Bob. After performing at the concert, Bob sent his family to the United States while he fled to London.

It’s a decision which will lead to Bob producing his best-selling (non-posthumous) album ever.

And as his records advocating for peace and unity in the face of political oppression fly off the shelves, Bob can’t help but think that he needs to return to Jamaica to, once again, advocate for the same there.

Positive Elements

Bob sends his wife and children to America following the assassination attempt in order to protect them from any reprisals. Later, the would-be assassin comes back to Bob and begs for forgiveness, and Bob immediately grants it to him.

Bob manages to bring opposing political leaders together to shake hands.

In Bob’s song, “War,” he sings about his desire for the world to recognize all races as equal.

Spiritual Elements

Marley and his family embrace a faith called Rastafarianism. It’s an eisegetical religion (that is, a religion wherein adherents read their own meanings into sacred texts) that contends that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming occurred through Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I when he rose to power in the 1930s. Though Selassie was assassinated in 1975, many Rastafarians believed that the man was still alive (pointing to the lack of a recovered body as proof) and that, one day, Haile Selassie will lead the people of Africa to freedom. They call the man “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” We hear a reference to Grounation Day, when Haile Selassie visited Jamaica. Rita described the day as when she truly knew that “the Christ returned.”

It is unclear how the religion deals with verses which warn against such beliefs regarding the return of Christ.

Many of Bob Marley’s songs can be heard throughout the film, the majority of which contain spiritual lyrics. Indeed, Bob states that for him, “the music and the message are the same thing”—that is, that he desires to use his platform to spread the Rastafarian message to the world. That’s especially true of his album and song Exodus, where Bob ties the biblical story to the Rastafarian hope of freedom—or, more specifically, returning to Africa. Below, we’ve analyzed the lyrics of the film’s most prominent songs.

In the song “So Jah Seh,” Bob references Psalm 37:25 and Psalm 100:3. In “Natural Mystic,” Bob references the trumpets of Revelation and utters coming judgment in a prophetic style. In “Jamming,” Bob sings that he’s “jamming in the name of the Lord” and tells all “Jah children to unite,” saying “Jah sitteth in Mount Zion.” (In Rastafarianism, “Jah” is used as the name of God.) In “Selassie Is the Chapel,” Bob says that “Haile Selassie is the chapel,” and in the same song he talks about the “power of the Trinity,” the “conquering Lion of Judah,” the “living God” and the “King of Kings.” In “One Love/People Get Ready,” Bob sings about the “Father of creation” and “hopeless sinners.” In “Greetings,” Bob equates Haile Selassie with the living God who dwells with “I and I.” (This phrase refers to the Rastafarian belief that God is partially within all men.)

Rita tells Bob that he is like Joseph from the book of Genesis, “and God always protects His anointed ones.” She also takes Psalm 118:22 – The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone – and applies it to Bob, though the Bible explicitly states multiple times that the verse is a prophecy about Jesus (Mark 12:1-12, Acts 4:11, 1 Peter 2:4-8).

Bob quotes an alleged prophecy by Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey, whom Rastafarians view as a prophet. Likewise, in “Redemption Song,” Bob references a quote by Marcus Garvey.

A man is concerned that Bob’s newest album won’t perform well due to its connection to the book of Exodus. He says that “young people don’t like the Bible.” Bob reads from the book of Revelation. A man gives Bob a Bible. Someone claims that Reggae is “the consciousness of the people coming together.”

At one point, someone states that “only you can redeem yourself.” Rita wears the Star of David, a symbol that Rastafarians have co-opted from Judaism, as they believe Haile Selassie is biologically descended from King Solomon. Western civilization is referred to as “Babylon” by some Rastafarians. In London, Bob comments on a statue of a lion, laughing that they “take the conquering lion and try to tame it.” The “conquering lion” is a prominent symbol of Rastafarianism and is representative not of the biblical Lion of Judah (that is, Jesus) but of Haile Selassie. When Bob gets a gift from the Ethiopian Crown Prince, Rita views it as a sign for Bob to return to Jamaica. Someone holds up a sign at a concert which reads “Jah bless Jamaica.”

[Spoiler Warning] When Bob passes away, we hear a disembodied voice state, “You are my son. It’s time to come home now,” and Bob is taken away on a horse ridden by Haile Selassie (in the Rastafarian religion, a depiction of God).

Sexual Content

A young Bob and Rita passionately kiss and fall onto a bed before the scene changes. Bob becomes upset when he believes that a man is attempting to come onto his wife. This turns into an argument between Bob and Rita, where they both references affairs they’ve already had (both Bob and Rita had children with their extramarital partners). Another man attempts to sweet-talk a woman. A man is seen shirtless.

Violent Content

Someone is shot and killed in a drive-by shooting. Other people are shot and killed, and one man is seen writhing on the ground after being shot. Bob is shot, and we see bloody bullet wounds. Bob kicks a man on the ground multiple times. Rita slaps Bob. We catch a couple glimpses of Bob’s toe, which grows progressively worse and bloody due to melanoma.

A car is set on fire. A police officer throws a man against a car. People have conversations about violence and death. We see a cornfield on fire.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear what sounds like an f-word and an s-word during a scene when many people are speaking at once. God’s name is used in vain three times, and Jesus’ name is likewise used in vain once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Bob and other characters are often seen smoking marijuana. (The use of the drug is considered a sacrament within the Rastafarian religion.) People drink alcohol.

Other Negative Elements

A Rastafarian preacher believes that God’s skin color is important, laughing at the idea that God could be anything but Black. A man reveals that he’s been secretly charging people extra money for Bob’s concerts so that he can pocket the difference. It’s revealed that Bob’s father abandoned him when he was a child.


What do most people know about Bob Marley?

I’d wager that most people know that he’s one of—if not the—most popular reggae artist of all time. Others might know of the assassination attempt on his life.

Well, reggae and political violence are both relevant elements of Bob Marley: One Love—as they should be in order to properly depict Marley’s life. But the film also depicts another prominent part of Marley’s life: his religious beliefs.

Rastafarianism plays a large part in Bob’s life and motivations, from “spreading the message” through his music to his desire to play concerts in Africa. And it’s evident both in the movie and through Marley’s lyrics that the man genuinely believed in the divinity of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. And elements near the end of the film depict Marley’s beliefs as true—as the singer rides into eternity with a depiction of Selassie at the end of his life.

Were it not for those spiritual issues, Bob Marley: One Love would be quite reserved in its content issues. Apart from an intense attempted assassination scene, some marijuana use and a couple crude words, there’s not much else to worry about.

But for Christians, the movie’s emphasis on Rastafarianism likely won’t let them get together and feel alright.

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Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He thinks the ending of Lost “wasn’t that bad.”