It has nearly been a month since the premiere of the highly anticipated Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, it has since made an astounding $401,213,249 worldwide and deemed as the second best biopic that has ever been released! I’ve been hearing millions of things about the movie, and last night, on November 20th, I finally put aside a couple of hours from studying for my final exams to go to the movies and watch the film, and I’m so glad I did!
Creating a biopic is hard to do, you have a limited amount of time to pack years of important moments to fully transcribe the who, what, where and why’s of a band or a person; especially accurately. There’s yet to be a biopic that has ever been 100% true to fact, but does that make it bad? That’s usually what the main debate of these kinds of film is; is it more about if the music is portrayed accurately or rather the people? To me, as long as they don’t completely change the people, it should be more focused on the music; the history of it all.
Bohemian Rhapsody obviously had its flaws, parts in the timeline were skewed and shifted, a little too much heavy emphasis on Freddie Mercury’s love-partners rather than the relationship with bandmates, leaving out minute details of the band’s growth; but did it capture the general image of Queen while bringing the music to life? very much so! Which is why I’m going to discuss the five things the film did correctly!
1 – Portraying The Impeding Loneliness That comes With The Entertainment Industry
I’m going to right off the bat admit the film made me cry a lot, I actually started to tear up right when it started because it immediately hit me that we never got much information on Freddie Mercury, other than tabloid fallacies, and I was ready to learn more about the flamboyantly brilliant man. However, I was not emotionally prepared for his story to be so sad. I really appreciated how this film did not shy away from showing the audience how terribly lonely a life of fame, money, and living on the road really is. A lot of the time rockumentaries and biopics glamourize the rockstar life of “sex, drugs and rock and roll”. Lonely? “That’s okay all rock stars are, but they got coke and heroin, and prostitutes! they need not worry about what will happen when the excitement of that goes away”.
What Bohemian Rhapsody did is show the viewers that, yes, Freddie did what a lot of our favourite rock musicians did and hell, he got lost in the ideology of that maybe he could fix his impending loneliness with these things, but it destroyed him internally…both figuratively and realistically.
Freddie Mercury’s purpose on this earth was definitely to be an entertainer, musician, frontman, etc ; but even a man like Freddie could not handle the toxicity of fame. That’s what really got to me, just seeing the pain Rami Malek brilliantly portrayed throughout the film had me in tears and left me with chills, I still can’t stop thinking about it.
2 – Portraying The Mistreatment of Those Diagnosed With HIV/Aids (especially in the 80s)
If the fact that Freddie’s death of aids is a spoiler for you, well, uh, I’m sorry but this is a topic that needs to be brought up more and I am really grateful that Bohemian Rhapsody represented how the 80s pharma-system failed people; a lot of people died of Aids because of the homophobic stigma of it being a “gay man’s disease”, and for that reason government’s around the world did not prioritize funding for HIV treatments. Thousands of people around the world could have still been alive, including Freddie.
The first licensed drug, AZT, its initial doses for the drug were too high which actually made the drug was toxic, which more people died from this than the disease itself. Eventually an oral formulation was made but it had to be taken in high doses every four hours and usually only people in clinical trials could gain access to it. The worst part was that it didn’t cause lasting remission from AIDS (Evolution of Aids, Canada’s HIV Information).
Although Bohemian Rhapsody did not go into great details of the disease itself, they did show that how quickly the disease of HIV can spread and how many people died of Aids. Thankfully, now, those diagnosed with HIV can prevent it from turning to Aids if caught early enough, and can actually live a pretty long life, however, the movie did remind me of how f*cked up the world was in the Eighties. The homophobia, the drug culture, the mistreatment of people with the unknown diseases; shit was really bad back then, and you almost forget it because films rarely bring that up and I think it is because baby boomers are afraid of admitting how shitty of people they were back then.
I think it’s important to remind people, especially the youth, that despite however f*cked up the world may seem right now, especially with the Trump administration, the times are progressing; society is improving… no matter how much it feels like we, as a society, are taking two steps forward and three steps back. At least we are now protecting people in ways we can, and if our government(s) fail us, at least there are better support systems in our pop-culture.
We have icons like Freddie who literally put their blood, sweat and tears into their art for us to look back on and use as anthems or general inspiration. Despite not wanting to be the poster image of Aids, Freddie did bring a lot of public knowledge to the disease, and I think that’s really important.
3- Emphasis on the POC/Persian Culture
For the past month, I tried my best to avoid reviews of the film because I not only wanted the experience to be a surprise, but I also didn’t want to go into the film with a bias that other people put in my head.
Although, I’m sure you know all know how it is nearly impossible to successfully avoid spoilers when you spend the majority of your day online. Especially since it’s nearly impossible to go on any form of social media without reading someones loud opinion (yeah, shut up, Darya). So, of course, I came across many complaints being thrown around on places like my twitter feed, as well as my facebook feed.
I read a lot of, what I can now call, nonsense about how they “white-washed” Freddie and stripped him from his bi-sexuality…umm… did those people actually watch the movie?! or did they watch the same one I did? because I can honestly say how relieved I was by how in-depth they went to explain the struggles of not only Freddie’s experience of being a Person of Colour (POC), but an overall sad, but fantastic, representation of being POC in the rock industry.
The racial slurs, the stigma within family cultural differences, the constant separation of “us vs them” when it comes to white people in the industry and POC. I was very pleased with the constant reminder that Freddie is not white, he’s Indian with a Persian/Zaroshtian cultural background, he is a POC bi-sexual man that struggled to find his identity in a scene that tried so hard to strip him of that.
That is a huge part of Freddie Mercury‘s character and the writer of Bohemian Rhapsody did a fantastic job of portraying that, as well as Rami Malek. Who, I’m sure understands that struggle since he is Egyptian-American. Personally, I related emmensly to the acknowledgements to the racial gap in the rock industry. Especially the disaproval from family members! Every time its mentioned in my house that I aspire to become more involved in the rock indsutry, I am immediately hit with the “why can’t you be a doctor, engineer or lawyer?” speech
Bohemian Rhapsody, and Freddie Mercury inspire me to follow my dreams; that desiring to be a part of the rock and roll world isn’t outlandish, and if you keep focused on your goal is possible. We need more POC in the rock community, we need more women, we need more LGBTQ, etc!
4- Capturing The Essence of Rock’n’Roll
I can still hear the thumping of the *boom, boom, clap* ringing in my head, the crowd cheering, the guitar riffs, the drums, the baselines, everything just gives me crazy goosebumps. The experience of Bohemian Rhapsody the film was nearly as exciting as real life concert, especially the Live Aid scene. I couldn’t look away from the screen, I was engulfed in the film as if I was actually there watching Queen perform.
Most people cried at the notably sad themes and scenes throughout the film, which I did too, however, the parts that made me cry equally as much that I didn’t expect to, had been the “live” performances.
The “live” performance scenes made me want to jump out of my seat and scream “I F*CKING LOVE ROCK AND ROLLLL”…My god, do I love rock music, most importantly the rock music community.
It was truly a brilliant experience watching people scream out lyrics, hug, cry and just absorb the music on a big screen! moments like that, in general, makes my heart burst with pride, so to watch that in a theatre setting with the music booming in an ultra HD surround-sound experience was dreamy.
A scene that stands out, is obviously the Live Aid part, but the thing in particular that stood out to me, and may be dismissed by some, is the crowd shots during that moment. Now, I’ve watched the real Queen Live Aid performance a million times, but that was alone in my room at 3am on my 13inch laptop screen. Watching that on a big screen, with amazing sound quality all around you, and like I mentioned, watching other people enjoy the music.. ugh I sobbed man… I sobbed like a baby and I am not even in the slightest bit ashamed to admit that. It just makes me incredibly happy because I know that feeling. I live for that feeling, it is literally the reason why I am still alive today.
Bohemian Rhapsody I applaud you for capturing the essence of rock’n’roll, adding details to the Live Aid crowd did not go unmarked by people like me, who’ve watched the real version a million times but always wanted to know what it was like actually being there. You gave us fans the opportunity to live it, and relive it for some of those!
5 – Giving Queen Justice for How Incredible They Really were
Ultimately, there were hiccups in Bohemian Rhapsody. Of course, they didn’t get everything right, the timeline was blurred, moments weren’t explained exactly how it was once said to have gone down, but man oh man, the uncanny live scenes brought Queen live to life.
This is the moment I would like to give the cast of the film a round of applause: Rami Malek, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee & Joseph Mazzello, thank you for doing your research; thank you for putting the effort in to give Queen the justice they deserved. Their performance as the band was superb, but can we also mention how freakishly identical Gwilym Lee was to the real Brian May?!
Something I really enjoyed about the film was the inclusion of the band sessions, especially the scene when they were recording the song Bohemian Rhapsody. I’ve always known the band Queen to be absolutely brilliant, however, when I heard my sister, who is not a rock music fan but I did drag along to watch the film with me, whisper a “holy shit, that was cool” during that part, I got a surge of excitement… this is real rock’n’roll!! That is what it’s like to make a good song and a good record. I was honestly beaming at that thought; and it made me that someone who wouldn’t have known before this movie, how great of a band Queen really was
If we are able to move past the small details of who really said what, and where the band actually was when something happened, you’ll be able to indulge in the accuracy of everything else. The cast over-exceeded my expectations in the research they would do, not only had they nailed every movement down accurately, but they also had the energy Queen had during the live shows!
The cast truly gave me the same electric feeling the band would give me when I watch their live performances on youtube, and that’s what made me proud of both the cast of the film and Queen themselves. This movie was honestly was a very well done music movie. It had everything and more, and as a pretty big Queen fan, I left the theatre superbly satisfied. Need I really say more?
Long live Rock’N’Roll
Until next time Interwebs 🕸
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