By HARRY FISHER
As a fan of rock and roll music, I’ve always admired the work of the band Queen. Although I’m far from the biggest Queen fan in the world, they have quite a few songs that I think are fantastic, songs that should be instantly recognizable to any fan of music. They’ve had a huge impact on the rock genre and music in general, and have inspired many other artists for generations.
However, every Queen fan knows that their appeal lies not just in their music, but in the band’s personality and the story of how they worked together, especially with regards to the lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Which is why the film “Bohemian Rhapsody”, named after one of the band’s most famous songs, has taken the inspiring story of Mercury and the band and brought it to the big screen for all of Queen’s fans to enjoy.
The story of the film starts in 1970, with Mercury, at the time known as Farrokh Bulsara, meeting guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, two members of the band Smile. Their lead singer has just quit, leaving them in need of a replacement, and they’re instantly impressed by Mercury’s incredible vocal range.
Together, the three form the band Queen, along with bassist John Deacon, and their music becomes instantly popular as they play gigs all over Britain. While the band is producing their first album, Bulsara falls in love with Mary Austin and starts dating her. Eventually, the band scores a contract with EMI records and goes on a tour of America, and Bulsara legally changes his name to Freddie Mercury.
From there, the movie continues to follow the band’s success, along with the many challenges they faced during their career and the problems which Mercury had in his personal life. We get to see the processes the band went through in producing many of their most famous songs, including “Bohemian Rhapsody” itself, “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” We see them quit EMI Records when the executive, Ray Foster, refuses to let them use the Rhapsody as the first single of the album “A Night at the Opera,” and how they bounce back from this and continue to be successful despite the song’s initial criticism.
One of the points the film focuses on the most is Mercury’s questioning of his sexuality and his slow realization that he is gay. We see how this affects his relationship with Mary, how it causes him to have affairs with other people, and how it causes him to fall in love with the waiter Jim Hutton. We also see how his manager, Paul Prenter, who is also gay, tries to manipulate him and permanently separate him from the rest of the band, acting as the villain of the movie.
We follow Freddie Mercury through all the ups and downs of his life, from his climb to the top all the way down to rock bottom and back again. And we follow Queen as a whole, through all the times their friendship, as well as their infighting, allowed them to produce great music for all the world to hear. We follow them through their successes and failures, the time they broke up and the time they came back together again.
It’s a very well-made film, full of fun and humor to represent the extravagant personality of Freddie Mercury and the energetic rock tunes of Queen. The acting is great, with the cast perfectly capturing the movements, speech patterns and even facial expressions of the real-life band members. I don’t know how accurate the film’s story is to the actual story of the band and their lives, but for the purposes of the movie, the story is very well written, full of moments of heart-wrenching failures and uplifting triumphs. The portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the movie came across as a respectful tribute to him as a person and an artist. The filmmakers handled the tragic parts of his life, including the realization that he had AIDS that would eventually lead to his death, in a very respectful and admirable manner.
The film also perfectly captures the awe-inspiring feeling of the band’s rise to fame, with a message about the difficulty of a person discovering who they are and what they’re place in the world is. It’s great to see the story of Mercury and the band becoming a family and becoming devoted to their millions of fans portrayed in such an entertaining film. And of course, you’ll get to rock out to some classic Queen tunes if you go to see it.
If you’re a Queen fan in any capacity, whether die-hard or more casual like me, I cannot recommend this movie enough, as it does an amazing job of portraying the band’s story for all to see. Even if you’re not a Queen fan, I still say give this movie a shot. Who knows? You might just become a fan by the time you leave the theater.