Bohemian Rhapsody: Good or Bad?

SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY BELOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Promotional poster for Bohemian Rhapsody

Photo Courtesy of ShowBiz Cinemas

Promotional poster for Bohemian Rhapsody

Michael Finnen, Staff Writer

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With that out of the way, over our long weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Bohemian Rhapsody in theatres. This movie chronicles the story of the popular 70s and 80s band, “Queen,” especially focusing on their lead singer, Freddie Mercury, played by Rami Malek. In this article, I will go over my thoughts about the movie and will try to give it an honest, fair review (I am a huge Queen fan but I will keep bias to a minimum).

I will begin this review with the positives about the movie. The best part of this movie is very evident: the music. Queen, in my opinion, has made so many excellent, standout songs, and Bohemian Rhapsody put them on full display. It also, surprisingly, introduced me to songs I had never heard before, namely “I’m in Love With My Car” (yes, this is not just a joke in the movie, this is a real song by “Queen”). It gave me much enjoyment to continue to research and listen to Queen even after I left the theatre. The live performances, sprinkled throughout the movie, made me feel like I was really at a concert, especially their final one, which I will get into later. This ties into the next great boon of the movie: the acting. I felt that the acting was rather solid throughout the movie, all the members of “Queen” looked how they should, and certainly acted well, hitting all the poignant emotional scenes. Watching them progress through their lives as they just enjoy themselves by making music was certainly a sight to behold and only added the enjoyment factor for me. Special mention should certainly go to Lucy Boynton, who played the character of Mary Austin; she was definitely able to pull off this very important, but largely unknown figure in the life of the band. Overall, the movie was solid in both of these two aspects.

One of the other great high points the movie reached was the portrayal of Freddie Mercury himself. Certainly, Rami Malek was able to capture the essence of the musical legend. Not only did he look like Mercury, with the exception of eye color, but the way he was able to speak and move as he did is nothing short of impressive. I encourage all reading to go and watch a live “Queen” concert video and watch how the real Freddie Mercury moves. What you will see is “unorthodox” to say the least. Malek not only had to research Mercury’s life but also had to learn how to portray these movements, and the result is stunning. However, Malek is only a small part of the movie’s greatness. The script, along with the scenes themselves, truly nail who Freddie Mercury really was. They portray a sensitive man, surrounded by terrible outside influence, who struggles to identify his own sexuality in a time when homosexuality was not widely accepted. Mercury is not just a musician, he was a deeply troubled man who lived a very hard life, ended by a terrible disease. Through watching his highest and lowest points, we as an audience are truly able to see a picture of what this man’s life was truly like. Bohemian Rhapsody definitely deserves points for this as well.

The last positive I will mention about the movie is its ending. The long story climaxes in the LiveAid concert, where the band performs in front of a massive crowd. After watching their struggles, and seeing their highs and lows, this scene is very striking. Mercury, who has been diagnosed with AIDS and does not have long to live, is performing and living his life as a musician as he wanted to. It is truly a powerful scene, full of great music and acting. I encourage you to go and watch the real recording of this concert, then compare it to the movie version and tell me that it is not incredibly accurate. I will admit, I shed a tear during this portion, it was very emotional. A great ending to a solid film.

No movie would be without negative issues which cannot be ignored, however. The most striking of these is the changes the movie had to make to the actual story of “Queen.” Sadly, this does affect the ending of the film. The LiveAid concert was actually performed in 1985, 6 years before Mercury would actually die of AIDS. It is even before Mercury supposedly got the disease in 1987. The movie also changes how Mercury actually met the band. It shows that he had been following Brian and Roger, and that one day when their lead singer quit he introduced himself to them and asked to become their lead singer. In reality, Mercury already knew Roger and Brian, as he was friends with the lead singer who quit, making him a prime pick for the new lead singer. The dramatic split up, which takes place about two-thirds of the way through the movie, is also largely fictional. The band was merely burnt out after many, many years of touring and decided to take a break. It is clear that these changes were mostly added to create a more dramatic movie, with more twists and turns and a huge payoff at the end. While they do accomplish this, they sacrifice the true story of “Queen” themselves and in doing so the movie suffers slightly.

Finally, closing thoughts. Do the changes take away from the overall enjoyment factor? For some, they may, but for me, I think that they were justifiable. They do not take away too much from the movie overall, with a majority of it being accurate to real life. For me, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and so the verdict: Bohemian Rhapsody is good. I personally would rate it a high 7 to a low 8 out of 10, and I certainly recommend it to all of those who are interested in music history or even those who just want to go and listen to some amazing songs. If you made it this far, I appreciate you reading this incredibly long review. Hopefully, it helped to teach you something, or help you appreciate the movie better. Certainly, we all can learn something from the life of the true musical legend, Freddie Mercury.

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