Released on August 24, Marvin Gaye – His Final Hours presents a brief biography of Motown superstar Marvin Gaye and details his last day. On April 1, 1984, he was shot to death by his father.
Considered one of the most successful recording artists in the world, Marvin Gaye had experienced career ups and downs—the downs due to his cocaine addiction. When he died, he had been depressed for approximately six months, and many of those close to him believed he was suicidal.
Gaye was living with his parents (in a home he had given them) after a tiring one-year tour. There was a great deal of tension between him and his father (Marvin Gay, Sr.) over the junkies and drug dealers who were frequenting their home.
Tension and bitterness had been the hallmark of the relationship between Gaye and his father. As a child, Marvin Gaye frequently clashed with the strict disciplinarian that his father was. Marvin Gay, Sr., had made it very clear to his children that if they disrespected him, they would be in a world of trouble. He often told them, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” Beginning at about the age of seven, Gaye was administered regular beatings. He had a very close relationship with his mother, which was another source of his father’s irritation.
Strict discipline was not unusual for a kid born in the early 1940s, but having a father who wore women’s clothing openly, and did not care what others thought was an additional burden for Gaye. His father was also a minister—I know what you’re thinking, one of these things doesn’t go with the others…minister, strict disciplinarian, transvestite. Pick your favorite cliché here: “it is what it is,” or “you never know.” Dad was also a bit fond of alcohol.
When Marvin Gaye was five years old he began singing gospel and people marveled at his beautiful voice. On his way to Motown, where he made his mark and his millions, he added the “e” to his last name. Despite his success, his father (who was living off Gaye’s royalties) never approved of his career.
In the last months of his life, as his depression and drug use spiraled out of control, this self-defeating, self-destructive singer became increasingly paranoid. He always carried a loaded gun. He supplied both his father and brother with pistols in case someone were to attack him.
Marvin Gaye had problems with the IRS and was living a chaotic life. The day before his death he had argued with his father. The next day, the father—fuming over missing business papers—went into his wife’s room and berated her. Marvin jumped to her defense, eventually pushing his father, knocking him to the floor, and kicking him. Senior went to his own room, got his gun, returned to his wife’s room, and shot his son.
Marvin Gaye – His Final Hours reveals the kind of life Marvin Gaye was living, with an emphasis on his drug use and the negative effects it had on him and those around him. It provides an hour-by-hour reconstruction of Gaye’s last day, using biographical and witness-supplied information to explain what happened and why. The big question is, “Did Marvin Gaye commit suicide?” Did he know exactly how his father would react when humiliated and choose this as the way to end his life? Although we don’t know the answer to these questions, there are many who suspect the answer is “yes.”
This edition of Final 24 presents an objective narrative and clearly draws connections between Marvin Gaye’s past and his death. There are interviews with family members, his biographer, and professionals with whom he worked; they add support to the story being told and give us a better understanding of this popular singer and what lead to his death. Marvin Gaye’s story is indeed sad, and is told with respect. (There are no extra features on the DVD).
Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Marvin Gaye – His Final Hours? Probably stream—it’s an interesting story, and this film fills in gaps in my knowledge of this talented performer.