Marvin Gaye’s 1971 record, What’s Going On, is a seminal record that remains as relevant today as it was 45 years ago. Appropriately, as Variety reports, the album is now getting a well-deserved documentary.
What’s Going On was written in response to the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, and other social injustices. Today it remains a rally cry against oppression and violence everywhere—a sentiment especially topical given the events of the past couple weeks. The album “challenged America and the world to self-reflect, going on to inspire a generation of artists and music lovers,” the producers of the forthcoming film said in a statement. This doc, according to them, will be “the defining portrait of this visionary artist and his impeccable album.”
Gaye’s family—his children Nona, Marvin III, and Frankie Gaye, and former wife, Janis Gaye—seem to agree, as they’ll be involved with providing intimate anecdotes and previously unreleased material for the film. This marks the first time all have been on board for such a project. “We would like to express our excitement about the upcoming documentary feature film about our father and the creation of his amazing ‘What’s Going On’ album,” stated his children. “We are proud that his relevance remains intact, and we look forward to being a part of this cinematic journey.
“…We look forward to participating and sharing what we can through friends, family, photos, footage and priceless stories that only those who knew our father up close and personal would know, as well as his contemporaries, purists, and fans who have studied him and his art over decades.”
The film, which is to be shot in Detroit, Washington, and Los Angeles, will be co-directed by Gabriel Clarke and Torquil Jones and produced by their fellow Noah Media Group partners, John McKenna and Victoria Barrell. It will also be produced in conjunction with Greenlight, which is part of the Branded Entertainment Network that represents Gaye’s trademarks and personality rights. Production is scheduled to begin next year.
All in all, it seems like this is getting done the right way, and the time is ripe for remembering Marvin Gaye. Because, truly, every morning I wake up, read the news, and then ask myself: “What’s going on?”
Image: Tamala Records