Our parents loved Queen and now it’s our turn to fall in love with them. Director Bryan Singer brought them back into the spotlight on November 2 with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the movie, which has already grossed $472 million worldwide.
Queen is one of the biggest names in music. Their songs have become the staples and legends of true rock ’n’ roll, and have become the sound of an entire generation. Queen was too big to really be forgotten, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” has reintroduced them to the kids of the kids that originally loved them in the ’70s and ’80s.
A highly anticipated movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has certainly raked in the money, but only the first half lived up to its legendary namesake. The movie naturally focused on Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. While his story should be told, the new sounds, music, and style that Queen invented were (and still are) far more influential than his story.
The excellent first half of the movie centered around the formation of the band and their inventions in music. The scenes of the band creating their “A Night at the Opera” album are some of the best. Watching Freddie Mercury and the band invent the “Bohemian Rhapsody” — how they experimented to create it — was like an exclusive, behind-the-scenes peek into the creation of one of the greatest songs in rock history. Watching Brian May play his guitar solo and Roger Taylor sing the operatics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” was enough to give the audience chills and create a deep respect for the group’s musical talent.
But the movie shifted its focus from the band and the music to focus on Mercury’s deeply sad and dark life. Freddie Mercury, the son of Indian immigrants, was originally named Farrokh Bulsara. He had a meteoric rise to stardom, and he lived a hard life as a diva. It was full of chaotic partying, drugs, alcohol, and homosexual partners. He contracted AIDS and died at the age of 45.
Actor Rami Malek’s depiction of Mercury is impeccable, realistic, and breathtaking. Mercury was a flamboyant, huge personality and Malek brought the energy and spark needed to ignite the character into a realistic snapshot of the legend. Even Brian May, the guitarist of Queen, was impressed by Malek’s performance and thought Mercury would have been pleased had he lived to see it.
“I think he would have felt it was a fair cop. It shows all his greatness and all his fallibility and insecurity — the whole bit,” May told Cinema Blend. “I think it shows him very truthfully and not sycophantically, but in a way that appreciates his talent. Because he sure was unique.”
May also later told the Press Association that he thinks Malek’s performance should place him on the list for Oscar nominations.
“He inhabited Freddie to the point where we even started to think of him as Freddie,” May said. “Really remarkable.”
May said he thinks that Mercury would have even appreciated that it showed his serious flaws. But no matter how excellent Malek’s acting was, the film was supposed to be about the whole band. Sure, it shows how the band created “Bohemian Rhapsody” and showed a quick shot of how they made “We Will Rock You,” but what about the stories behind “We Are the Champions,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Under Pressure,” or “Somebody to Love”? What about the story behind Brian May building his own guitar to get that particular sound unique to Queen, thanks to his ingenuity?
Roger Taylor, Brian May, Freddie Mercury, and John Deacon were remarkable musicians that changed the face of music and rock ’n’ roll forever. They created the sound of a generation that no one else could duplicate. They were a one-of-a-kind band with extreme talent, guts, and nerve, who sailed into an uncharted territory of music and invented new sounds.
No matter how big Freddie Mercury was, the movie should have focused more on the whole group and its spectacular music.