“Bohemian Rhapsody” | A Royal Treat

by Rita Cook, President North Texas Film Critics’ Awards on November 6, 2018 in Entertainment, Film,
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Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

I’ve loved Queen and Freddie Mercury for as long as I can remember. And I wondered how such an incredible story could be told in just a short movie. (Truth be told, the final cut of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is 134 minutes long.)

Enter Graham King. He bought the rights to the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen as award-winning writer Peter Morgan was writing it. From there, King got both guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor involved in telling the story of this iconic band for the silver screen.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” tells the story of the iconic band Queen and their charismatic frontman Freddie Mercury. Photo courtesy Fox

Initially, both May and Taylor were a bit unsure of the project but ultimately trusted King. For his part King said about the project, “The film is a celebration of the music as well as carrying on the legacy of Queen and Freddie.” King wanted to show a whole new generation who Freddie Mercury was—starting with his background in Zanzibar and his coming to London as an immigrant, the prejudice he dealt with growing up, his shyness and insecurities about his looks. He also wanted people to know how Mercury battled on so many different fronts, about his brilliance as a songwriter and musician, and how he found another family in the band. From there, Mercury reinvented himself as a larger-than-life performer, while always remaining someone everyone loved who could get away with some very outrageous behavior–all framed by the creation of a sound that was innovative and groundbreaking for the time. “The period from 1970 to1985 felt like the most important part of Freddie’s and the band’s life story, and it ends with the triumph of Live Aid,” said King.

A larger-than-life performer, Freddie Mercury overcame many personal challenges and societal prejudices to become a global phenomenon. Photo courtesy Fox

The fact that May and Taylor were also part of the project throughout the process meant the story was told true to history. For me, that was the part of the film that resonated the most with me and I respected the story even more because of it.

The result was “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the film really is a celebration of Queen, their music and their lead singer Freddie Mercury. We see in the film how Mercury, played by Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) really did defy the odds to become one of the most well-loved entertainers at that time.

Basically, the movie goes through the quick rise of the band due to their iconic songs and innovative sound. Looking at the bigger picture you see that was just a small part of it. The story also outlines how Mercury took a darker turn when he decided to pursue a solo career.   Ultimately, he manages to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid. This is also at the same time he is told he has an AIDS diagnosis. Nevertheless, he leads the band on stage at Live Aid and Queen will forever be remembered for that performance

It has now been 25 years since the death of Mercury and this movie will certainly remind new generations why the global phenomenon Queen is a mix of cross-generational and multicultural appeal.

The movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” culminates with Freddie Mercury and Queen performing at the 1985 Live Aid concert. Photo courtesy Fox

Alongside Malek, Lucy Boynton (Murder on the Orient Express) plays Mary Austin, Mercury’s best friend and one-time wife; Gwilym Lee (Jamestown) is guitarist Brian May; Ben Hardy (The Woman in White) is drummer Roger Taylor; Joseph Mazzello (Jurassic Park) is bass guitarist John “Deacy” Deacon; Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) is Queen’s first manager John Reid; Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) is the group’s lawyer-turned-manager Jim “Miami” Beach; Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) is Paul Prenter while Aaron McCusker (Shameless) plays Mercury’s longtime boyfriend Jim Hutton.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is well written, well-directed and well-cast and is worth the time to explore not only the story of Queen and Mercury, but also taking a look at a band that seemingly got along together—even against the odds in some cases.

Cover photo courtesy Fox