REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody

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“Queen Members” by Julio Zeppelin on Flickr is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. No changes were made to the image. Use of this photo does not indicate photographer endorsement of this article.

EP Presnell

I was sitting in my seat looking at Rami Malek on the screen, and I swore it was Freddie Mercury. I was certain that they had just swapped out footage from the movie with footage from the Live AID concert, but they didn’t. From the beginning of “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the end of “We Are the Champions,” I was in total awe of how the movie had gotten to this point and how well Malek did. The last scene went into slow motion and “Don’t Stop Me Now” came on, no instruments, just Freddie’s vocals, and that’s when the water works really kicked in.

Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?

Bohemian Rhapsody tells a storybook version of Freddie Mercury’s life. In the beginning Freddie meets Brian May (lead guitar) and Roger Taylor (drums), as well as his first love interest, Mary Austin, then Queen’s bass player, John Deacon. From there, the beginning is a fast paced collection of moments in Freddie’s life as Queen starts to form. For example, the pace makes it seem as though it took no time at all for Austin and Mercury to get engaged, when in actuality it took them four years. Within this time, Queen had released a self titled album, that the movie takes note of but does not explore. 

The movie does this often, making it easier for non-fanatics to understand. Instead of noting the release of Sheer Heart Attack, Queen’s third studio album, the movie focuses on Killer Queen, arguably the most recognizable song from that album. The movie uses Queen’s hit songs like chapters in a book to break up Mercury’s life, even if it does not chronologically make sense. For example, “We Will Rock You” was on the album News of the World which came out in 1977, but the movie changes it to appear as though it came out much later to fit better in the story.

If you aren’t a stickler for inaccuracies like this, the movie is just as worthy of your time, and even if you are, it doesn’t take away from the performances of the cast and the chance to listen to Mercury’s vocals in a movie theater. 

The show must go on

Rami Malek does a phenomenal job taking on the role of Freddie Mercury, especially when his look changes halfway through to the iconic short hair and mustache. There are moments throughout the movie, specifically at the Live AID concert in which he looks identical to Mercury. However, Malek was not originally the pick for the role. The movie went through an eight year process after its announcement in 2010 including numerous directors and actors before the final pick of Bryan Singer for director and Malek as Mercury. After talks of Malek joining the team, he had to audition for the remaining members of Queen for their approval to play Mercury. May and Taylor both loved him and believed he did a great job at capturing both Mercury’s power and his softer side which is especially shown through his interactions with the other actors in the film.

Malek’s on screen chemistry with Lucy Boynton (Mary Austin) reveals more about Mercury and his relationships with other people. There are multiple scenes in the movie that show Mercury’s devotion to her and how heavily she impacted him such after their breakup. The members of Queen, May (Gwilym Lee), Taylor (Ben Hardy) and Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), also have good chemistry from the minute Mercury meets May and Taylor in their mid-20s until the end of the Live AID performance.

A kind of magic

On one final note, please remember this. Mercury was bisexual, loving both Mary Austin in his earlier life and in the last years of his life, partner Jim Hutton. While you don’t see Mercury descending into a deep sickness, you see his diagnosis and the movie ends with the information that he died of bronchial pneumonia, an AIDS related sickness. After his diagnosis in the movie, Mercury decides Queen needs to play at Live AID, despite this not happening chronologically in real life, and the movie left me personally with a reminder that you never know when things will change. Nothing is promised, not even the certainty that you will live to see tomorrow. The movie and Freddie’s own life is a sign and reminder to take every day as it comes and live your life to the fullest.

While Bohemian Rhapsody has received mixed opinions from critics you may be debating on whether or not to go see the movie. I would urge you to go see it immediately. The movie holds a special place in the hearts of fans of the music and reintroduces Queen to a new generation. As Queen would say, “it’s a kind of magic” in more ways than one. It gives a sneak peek into the life of a man who closed himself off to the public and gives stories behind some of the most iconic songs and moments in music history, if not all true.

Bohemian Rhapsody is playing in theaters now and the soundtrack is also available anywhere where music is sold, on streaming services or is free to listen to on YouTube. You can click here to buy tickets for the movie from Fandango.

Queen live @ Seattle, 1980” by Comunità Queeniana on Flickr is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. No changes were made to the image. Use of this photo does not indicate photographer endorsement of this article.