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  • Writer's pictureEugene

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

13th July 2019

Our thrilling main film was combined with three shorts. We learnt about Mercury’s early life, enjoyed a detailed analysis of the mighty song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and found out that Queen’s songs still are uplifting, even to very young listeners. It was touching to see footage of his Zoroastrian family speaking and to understand something of his unusual background, which brought him from Zanzibar to Bombay, back to Zanzibar and finally to London, fleeing the revolution. Freddie saw the band as “playing for other misfits and the outcasts right in the back of the room, who are pretty sure they don’t belong either… we belong to them.” In discussion group, we all took turns to share our impressions. Our group included some real fans, who had seen it again and again and who still relished every moment. They gave us the insider view, telling us about Queen’s latest tour and how their present lead singer – Adam Lambert – even appears in a cameo during the movie. We also talked about the well-publicised issues in completing the film, with a change of lead actor and director. We all agreed that Rami Malek’s portrayal was extraordinary and his many Best Actor awards were deserved. Mary Austin’s commitment to Freddie was very touching, especially as he had written ‘Love of My Life’ for her. We, remarkably, had a group member who had done the hair and make-up for the powerful Live Aid sequence, which added another dimension to our discussion. We also touched on the reality of AIDS in the 80s and how fearful the advertisements had been. The apocalyptic images of tombstones and icebergs still were etched in our mind and those of us who remembered the era, spoke deeply about our memories. We also shared our thoughts about the theme of family within the film, and the poignancy of Mercury being so rich, yet so alone when he needed support. We finally responded to some critics’ impressions of the film, which, while acknowledging Rami Malek’s fine performance, had been generally negative when it came out. This included the quotation from Steve Rose at The Guardian, “Bohemian Rhapsody honours Mercury the showman but never really gets to Mercury the person.” Some of us, despite our love and enthusiasm for the film, felt this was generally true. Anne


I have seen this film three times now because it is so well done. The actors who are playing the members of the band, Queen, all look like their real life counterparts and have captured their mannerisms so well. The film is the story of Queen and its flamboyant lead singer, Freddie Mercury, from the formation of the band through to the iconic Live Aid performance in 1985, albeit somewhat sanitised. It is a reminder of how prolific they were with so many songs of different styles and how popular they became. The film has now taken over a billion dollars (yes, billion) and still going and has brought the music of Queen to a wider audience than ever before. They have always attracted huge loyal audiences of several generations, grandparents, parents and grandchildren but now it is reaching communities that had previously not been aware of Queen, although likely recognised the anthems such as We are the Champions and We Will Rock You but not knowing who was singing. Since Freddie Mercury’s passing, Brian May and Roger Taylor have continued to perform as Queen, but without John Deacon on bass. He has retired from performing. The current lead singer is Adam Lambert, and has been since 2011 when they first performed together at the European Music Awards in Dublin. Interestingly, frontman Adam Lambert came from a background in musical theatre before participating in American Idol, where he chose Bohemian Rhapsody as his audition piece. As a consequence, Brian & Roger performed We are the Champions with the two finalists on the finale, one of whom was Adam. The director of Bohemian Rhapsody, Brian Singer, was fired before the film was completed and his replacement was Dexter Fletcher, whose most recent film is Rocketman. Taron Egerton, who played Elton John in that movie, sang Your Song as his audition piece for RADA. Full circle moments, both. Adam Lambert had an uncredited cameo on Bohemian Rhapsody, on screen for only a very few seconds but a pivotal scene. The song Bohemian Rhapsody had a resurgence in the 1990s when it was famously used in Wayne’s World (car headbanging scene). Mike Myers had to fight the “suits” and insist that Bohemian Rhapsody be the song in that scene and the rest is, as they say, history. Mike Myers was in the film Bohemian Rhapsody playing the EMI executive who refused to allow Bohemian Rhapsody to be released as a single! He even had a line about the song not the sort of thing that kids would listen to in cars and head-bang!. Queen + Adam Lambert have just started The Rhapsody Tour on the back of the movie with six weeks of dates around North America and Canada. The second leg of the tour will be in January/February 2020 in Asia and the Antipodes. We await dates for UK/Europe but likely to be summer next year Alison Brunning

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