Last night I watched the film Bohemian Rhapsody. I tried to hold my bias in check because the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen remain among my all time favorites. I didn’t know what to expect. After all, some critics have shredded the film and Bryan Singer, the film’s director, has been dealing with a series of allegations about his sexual activities.
I don’t know if Singer’s guilty—no one does at present and he hasn’t been convicted of anything. I do know the film’s critics got knocked to the curb by the quality of the film.
All those rumors you’ve heard about Rami Malek’s role as Freddie Mercury in the film should be dismissed if they’re negative. Malek is absolutely brilliant in his role. At times, it seemed Freddie Mercury was on the screen—Malek fills that role so well you forget you’re not watching the original Queen front man.
When I first heard Malek would play Mercury in the film, I had misgivings. No more. I can’t imagine the first actor chosen—Sasha Baron Cohen—playing Freddie now that I’ve seen Malek in the role.
I learned something from watching the film. While Mercury was always the first thought I had anytime I heard a song by Queen, the success of the band was collective creativity. Some of the unique touches in Queen’s music arose organically through the merged creativity of the members. Something else I learned involved artistic commitment. If you create something, stand by its authenticity because industry insiders aren’t always right about what music the public will embrace.
Some political activists claimed the film focused too much on Mercury’s lifelong friendship with Mary Austin, the woman he almost married. The activists wanted more emphasis on Mercury’s sexuality and his relationships with men. The film, however, makes Mercury’s sexuality crystal clear, and it does it tastefully. Had the filmmakers gone a more graphic route, millions of young people would technically, because of film ratings, not have been able to legally watch the film in a theater. I thought Mercury’s sexuality was handled very evenly and honestly.
Austin played a major part in Mercury’s life and his legacy. She did an interview in 2013 with a UK newspaper about her relationship with Mercury and the inheritance he passed on to her after he died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991.
I remember Mercury’s death. I wept.
From the moment I heard the astounding composition “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I was permanently hooked on a band whose genius is now widely acknowledged. When the song first came out, critics weren’t kind. Then again, critics crit because most of them can’t do art. Few bands have left behind a legacy as broad and enduring as the music of Queen.
Queen’s music continues, with a 2019 tour making stops in the US. Founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor still perform, and they will be joined by Adam Lambert. Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee are among the states where performances are scheduled.
The film Bohemian Rhapsody is worth anyone’s time. It’s a fantastic experience for the viewer—you feel as though you’re right in the middle of a concert. This isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with critics and it won’t be the last. And it’s not the first or last time those critics will be kicked to the curb by millions who disagree with their opinions.
As of December, 2018, the film Bohemian Rhapsody had “become the highest-grossing biopic of all time.”
Some media have questioned whether Bryan Singer’s controversies have harmed the film’s chances for awards. Singer has denied multiple allegations. The film has already won a Golden Globe for best drama and Malek won for best performance by an actor.
Meanwhile, Queen’s Live Aid performance in 1985, now an iconic moment in music history, is available on YouTube at artFido.
(Kay B. Day/Feb. 14, 2019)