After seeing Bohemian Rhapsody last Saturday, I thought of the idea for this week’s piece. My first experience with Queen (besides hearing my parents play their music) was doing a choral version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” with my college choir. As a person who was just a casual fan of Queen’s music, and who knew nothing about the story, I was not sure Bohemian Rhapsody would be enjoyable. However, after the picture, I found a new love for Queen, and I wanted to share two of my favorite aspects of the film.
Queen started as the group Smile. Brian May, Roger Taylor and Tim Staffell played gigs for the love of the music. Farrokh Bulsara, later known by the name Freddie Mercury, was a fellow college student acquainted with the band. After Staffell left, Mercury joined May and Taylor and suggested the band name Queen. The fourth and youngest member was 19-year-old John Deacon. Although the band was initially a lesser-known group, they would rise in the charts with their unique tone of being four misfits who seemingly did not belong together. The group did not hit mainstream fame until the album A Night at the Opera, where we first heard the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” At the time, the radio was only playing songs that were at a 3:05 run time, and Queen did not back down on editing their 6-minute song for radio play. With the help of Kenny Everett, a DJ friend of theirs who eventually agreed to play the song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” made the band a household name.
Now onto the film inspired by the band: Bohemian Rhapsody. The tale follows the difficulties of the band. Specifically, it follows Mercury from the group’s start to their massive success. He later tells the band he needs a break, so he signs a contract for two solo albums. When his solo career doesn’t go as he hoped, Mercury gets back together with Queen just in time for the Live Aid concert. After his diagnosis of AIDS, Mercury sees this concert as a way to give back to the community.
With Bryan Singer’s direction, Anthony McCarten’s screenplay, and Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan’s story creation, the creative team works wonders for the film. In terms of actors, Rami Malek gives an outstanding performance as Freddie Mercury. Lucy Boynton plays Mary Austin, Freddie’s devoted fiancée-turned-closest friend. Gwilym Lee performs the role of guitarist Brian May, Ben Hardy portrays the role of drummer Roger Taylor, and Joe Mazzello is in the role of bassist John Deacon.
It pleased me that all the teams involved worked together to craft a fully developed storyline. I did not know about the story going in, yet it kept me entertained from beginning to the end. The narrative gives a firsthand look at the characters, and it serves as a great way to see their motivations. It truly amazed me how much plot this movie contains. The impressive writing creates an enjoyable tale for fans of all levels. As such, I applaud the writers for presenting the material in a way that is easy for everyone to follow. Ultimately, it is the fantastic celebration of the group’s lives and Freddie’s journey that keeps viewers going until the end.
Of course, music is a big part of the film too. Again, as a casual fan of Queen’s music, I was not sure if I would know any of the songs that were used. However, with a mix of popular songs for a casual fan, plus some that only a more avid fan of Queen will know, the movie has something for everyone. These songs enhance the action of Bohemian Rhapsody, and for me, the music does an exceptional job of telling a story all its own. The Live Aid part of the film is the perfect example of this. According to the film’s timeline, Live Aid is the band’s first time back together after years, and they play like they have never been apart. Knowing that Mercury has limited time left with the band and their fans, the group is propelled to give their ultimate performance. This was the perfect way to wrap up the movie, with fans singing the Live Aid tunes as they left the theater. What a tear-filled celebration of an amazing talent, Freddie Mercury!
(Photo: Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. 20th Century Fox/New Regency.)