Could musician biopics be the newest trend in Cinema?? We at Maehem Underground certainly hope so! After the recent release and success of the Queen biopic-Bohemian Rhapsody it’s certainly not out of the question. Especially since to follow this release will be another highly anticipated biopic, Rocketman, which is about rock icon Elton John, to be released in 2019 and a recent peak from Motorhead on a Lemmy biopic.
Credit: Motorhead Official
Queen’s album ‘A Night at The Opera’ was among one of the very first I had purchased with my own money as a teen. I have been a longtime fan of them and was of course very excited to hear of a film coming out about them and even more so when that film made it to the small theater that I work at! I watched it for the first time with my grandmother and father. I was heavily inspired by the film and emotionally invested in it from start to finish! I simply HAD to watch it again, not only because it was so brilliantly done, but also because I knew I wanted to write about it! So, I entered the theater once again with my husband and best friend (both musicians) to take a full look at the film- Bohemian Rhapsody.
This film is centered around the band Queen and its legendary frontman and rock icon-Freddie Mercury. We begin with their tune “Somebody to Love” as we follow Freddie to a show with beautiful still shots of what surrounds him. From his beautiful home to the bustling behind the stage at the venue. We are all captivated as he opens the curtains to a roaring audience.
Then we are transported to a day turned to night in London 1970 that is full of pivotal moments that surely change the lives of young Freddie (Farrokh Bulsara) and band members of Smile: Brain May and Roger Taylor forever. After lead singer of Smile quits, Freddie offers to join the band and takes things in a brand-new direction! With a debut performance of “Keep Yourself Alive” Freddie is brought to life on stage, and thus the journey of Queen is pushed forward.
We follow Queen through their trails as they record their first album, are discovered, and then work to record their legendary album ‘A Night At The Opera’ where they work tirelessly to perfect the track “Bohemian Rhapsody.” As they bring it forth to the head of their record label, we see a cameo appearance by Mike Meyers. He stubbornly turns down Queen’s need to break free from the mold of releasing singles longer than the three-minute mark- as “Bohemian Rhapsody” was 6 minutes long, double the allowed airplay for the time. Freddie takes the album to Capital Radio and releases it on air against the wishes of the label, and although it is heavily criticized upon release, it easily became one of the most successful rock ballads of all time! Changing things for the music scene forever and even still now! I have been to several concerts where they play “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and everyone is united; all singing along with this epic ballad. It has been featured over all of the media throughout my life including the iconic scene in the 90’s cultural hit movie Wayne’s World, which stars Mike Meyers, therefore explaining his appearance in this film.
As Queen begins to rise to fame, selling out shows all over the country- they then receive news of a tour being booked in America where they continue to sell out there as well. As pressure builds, Freddie begins to realize things about himself that cannot be ignored no matter how hard he tries. The fame begins to put a strain on the band members, as well as with Freddie himself as he comes to reality with his sexuality and emotions. His loneliness grows as he begins to lose himself through the strains and often unwanted attention stardom brings him. After signing a contract to complete two solo albums, he quickly realizes the mistake he made by abandoning his band family, lifetime friend and ex-wife Mary, his family, and several other important people in his life. Mary appears at Freddie’s home, very worried about his well-being as she hasn’t heard anything from him. She reveals that there is a huge benefit concert going on called Life Aid that Queen was asked to perform. He hadn’t heard of this due to the villainous Paul manipulating his life behind the scenes in an attempt to keep Freddie isolated for his greedy desires. Freddie fires Paul and reconnects with his old friend and manager Miami (Jim Beach). He requests that the former members of Queen come together so that he may speak with them.
After a heartfelt apology, the members decide that they will return to the stage to bring a performance together to celebrate the benefit of Life Aid and help raise money for the cause. At practice, Freddie tells the band members of his recent diagnosis of AIDS but tells them he wishes to spend his last days making music and celebrating love and family. The film ends with a beautiful and passionate performance by Queen at one of the largest and most historical events in all of music history- Life Aid.
This film is phenomenal. There is so much thought put into every SINGLE detail; it’s truly mind-blowing. If you compare the actual footage of Queen’s performance of Life Aid to that in which they recreated in the film-it’s simply perfection! All the way down to the drinks sitting atop the piano-it’s all there! Everyone was cast so perfectly, almost too perfectly, its kind of scary. Rami Malek not only looks remarkably close to the actual Freddie Mercury, but his performance is stunning! He captures his essence perfectly, not only musically, but very much in even his small gestures. The other actors of the band Queen: Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor; Joseph Mazzello as bassist John Deacon; and Gwilym Lee as Brain May- all iconic! The way this film was put together is aesthetically pleasing as well. Capturing the eras in their full glory through fashion and atmosphere. It also features many of your most favorite songs from Queen’s career, placing them in just the right moments and putting us in the moment right alongside Queen as they take this journey.
There is a lot to be said about Bohemian Rhapsody, but I don’t want to take too much away. Once you experience it and see the details of this brilliance for yourself, then you will understand what I mean. Many people have been saying on social media that only a fraction of the story of Queen is told. Though this may be true, there is realistically only so much you can cover in a 2+ hour long film. Queen and Freddie changed a LOT about our world today. If you are interested in following up on Queen’s career in more detail I recommend the documentary The Story Of Queen: Mercury Rising to begin with which you can see HERE
This film is easily one of the best films of the year and will be gaining plenty of recognition I am more than certain. I laughed. I cried, but most importantly I was inspired. Please give us more biopics like this! Check for tickets at your local theater before its gone!
Edited by Samantha Crocker