Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen from their start to their final concert at the Live Aid concert in the mid-80’s. It portrays Freddie as a very conflicted multi-faceted personality as he goes from extremely outgoing, controlling and manipulative to very inward and dark and foreboding after he leaves the group and enters into the gay scene of London and his bout with aids that eventually killed him in 1991.
In 1970, Farrokh Bulsara, an Indian-British Parsi college student and baggage handler at Heathrow Airport, watches a local band who he has been following for a while, named Smile, perform at a nightclub. After the show, he meets Smile guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor and offers to replace their singer Tim Staffell, who has quit the band to join Humpy Bong. With the addition of bassist John Deacon, the band – now known as Queen – plays gigs across Britain until they sell their van to produce their debut album. Their musical style lands them a contract with EMI Records. At the same time, Farrokh legally changes his name to Freddie Mercury and becomes engaged to Biba store clerk Mary Austin. The Album hits the charts in America and during the band’s U.S. tour, Freddie begins to question his sexuality.
Rami Malek portrays Mercury and turns in a stunning and accurate performance even looking exactly like Mercury at the beginning with long rock star hair to later cutting it short while the others still retain their rock style look.
While Malek sang some parts in the film, producers inserted vocal stems from Queen songs as well as filling in parts with Canadian vocalist Marc Martel, a winner of the Queen Extravaganza Live Tour auditions.
There are several amusing scenes as when Freddie is thinking of a name for the new band and he has a Queen logo drawn on a paper, his girlfriend walks in and says, “Queen. Is that the name of the group?” to which Freddie replies, “Yes like in ‘her royal majesty’. It’s also outrageous and I’m outrageous.”
Late on when the band is trying to sell their new song Bohemian Rhapsody to an EMI producer the producer says to them, “Bohemian Rhapsody? What kind of title is that?” to which Freddie says, “It’s from poetry.”
The producer then says, “What kind of words are these ‘Galileo,’ ‘Scaramooch’ What does it all mean?” At which time guitarist Brian May says “explaining the mystery takes all the fun out of it.”
The producer decides not to go with the song because it is too long at six minutes and no radio station would play a song longer than three minutes. He later regrets that decision when the song becomes a giant hit with another record company.
Later on, the band has some creative differences with saying they are a family and Freddie shouldn’t be the one getting all the credit on the labels. Freddie is offered a solo career that pays four million dollars. The band is upset with him for wanting to leave. As Freddie is contemplating where his life is going he meets his manservant Jim Hutton who is gay and is attracted to him. He later looks him up and hooks up with him. Actually, in real life Jim Hutton was a hairdresser Freddie met in a nightclub.
It is interesting to see the roots of how the songs began with just a few notes and toe-tapping rhythms and handclaps such as “We Will Rock You” “Another One Bites The Dust” ‘We Are the Champions “and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Freddie learns he has aids and informs the band he does and not to tell anyone as he didn’t want it getting out and they understand. The band gets an invite to perform worldwide at the Live Aid concert in 1985 which featured anybody who is anybody in the rock and roll field such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, etc. They accept and the film ends with their concert for Live Aid. Another inaccuracy in the film is that Freddie didn’t learn he had aids until after the Live Aid concert. He died in 1991.
Overall this is a fantastic performance and emotionally captivating and tugs at the heartstrings though it was met with mixed reactions as a film. I’d highly recommend it, especially if you are a Queen fan. Check out the exciting trailer!!