When looking back on legendary performers who have passed, it's too easy to summarize their triumphs and put them on a pedestal.
When looking back on legendary performers who have passed, it's too easy to summarize their triumphs and put them on a pedestal. It is much more difficult but more insightful to humanize these stars, exposing their frailties and faults without tabloid-like exploitation. This DVD-Video is a tasteful biography that rises to the challenge of telling Marvin Gaye's story in his later years—after his '60s Motown heyday—when he faced some of the biggest struggles of his life: drug addiction, financial woes, paralyzing depression, and a faltering career. Surviving family members are interviewed, as well as former Gaye associates, who detail the singer's life in seclusion in Hawaii and Belgium, as well as his eventual comeback in the early '80s. Bonus features on the DVD are full-length performances of "Let's Get It On" and "What's Going On." Purists may be disappointed to learn that this is not a comprehensive biography that includes how Gaye became a Motown legend—or that no video interviews of Gaye are included. But there are plenty of rare home-movie footage and electrifying live performances to make up for this omission, and Gaye's personality is felt loud and clear. (A brief audio interview with Gaye is also included as a voiceover.) The DVD's tear-soaked conclusion details Gaye's tragic and untimely death in 1984, when he was shot by his father. Perhaps the most important message to this story is that despite his imperfections and a life that ended too soon, Gaye left an undeniable musical legacy that outshines even his darkest hours.—CH