He’s wearing his signature tight-clothed look, a simple white t-shirt and jeans, complete with a studded armband and slicked back black hair. He’s bouncing up and down with outstretched arms, almost in slow-motion, as he walks towards a thick sheet. He scales up steps and high fives smiling crew members, finally reaching the draped curtain. As it’s pulled back, he’s greeted by two billion eyes and endless screaming voices.
This is Freddie Mercury and Queen. This is Bohemian Rhapsody. This is where the film begins, a glimpse into all the nostalgia, at the Live Aid concert in 1985.
Everyone in the movie theater audience is dead quiet and clutching their popcorn, as people of all ages are eager to discover the real story of the legendary band Queen. We all wanted to traverse through time and understand the real Freddie, the real problems, the group in its rawest essence. So, the real question is, did the film deliver?
I have personally been in love with Queen since before I could remember. Not only would I jam out to “We Are the Champions” when I was still playing with Barbies, but I would marvel at the band’s performances on video. When they were on stage, they owned it. Brian May with his seductive guitar, Roger Taylor pounding the drums, John Deacon and his steady bass. But the main spectacle was Freddie Mercury, always sporting his iconic outfits in dazzling colors and prints, flying across the stage like a fabulous bird, his soulful voice ringing through the crowd. In this aspect, the film more than delivered.
In an almost uncanny way, Rami Malek transformed into Mercury’s character in nearly every way: the accent, gestures, dancing, and every piece of his flamboyant persona. You felt as if you were back in the 70s, and I felt that way without even being alive back then.
But you feel like you really were alive then. It is like you’re back in the ‘70’s, when 170 million records were sold, all certified platinum. Or in the ‘80’s, when Queen was the biggest stadium rock band in the world , according to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hundreds of thousands of screaming fans filled each venue they booked.
To those that know the music well, the development of those legendary songs are heart warming and wrenching all at the same time, and if you walked in the theater still thinking “Queen” meant her royal highness, then it opens a door to new music. I found myself crying when their songs finally came together, and I don’t even know why. That was the magic and mystery of it.
There are so many high notes to the film: the pure entertainment, fantastic soundtrack and humorous relief amidst the drama.
However, the main reason I was so eager to see this movie was to get an in-depth look into Mercury and his sexuality. I’ve always known that he struggled with it, but beyond that I was blind to the intimate pieces of his life and how it affected the band.
I did learn that Freddie wasn’t going to be boxed into a specific sexuality. He loved his wife, he had affairs with men, and so much more in between. He did whatever felt right in the moment, and the movie definitely accentuated that. But, what was almost disappointing was the portrayal of a gay lifestyle. The eccentric parties that separate Mercury from his bandmates, and showing same-sex desire in an almost malicious way, only achieved through unwanted groping and forbidden romances. This simply wasn’t the entire picture of how he lived his life, but a narrow snapshot.
Not only is his homosexual lifestyle blurred, but they seemed to keep Mercury at an extreme. He’s either happily married to a woman in the first half of the film, or sleeping with strictly men later. In reality, though, Mercury was bisexual, which he admitted to his wife Mary Austin. His habits weren’t as black and white as the scenes suggest. He loved men and women, but the film clearly wants to portray him as the strictly “gay icon” that everyone remembers him as.
This is possibly due to those who produced it. Two of the band members who produced, Roger Taylor and Brian May, clearly poured their hearts and unique stories into it. However, they didn’t completely understand Mercury’s sexuality, so to an extent, neither could the film.
Another question everyone is pondering is if movies like this are making us more tolerant to the gay community. The same sex romances, crazy parties with acrobats and misfits, the reality of AIDS and its effects.
In reality, one film is not going to change everyone’s point of view. Not everyone is going to walk out more tolerant or more accepting. But nevertheless, the film is purely enjoyable. Each scene is emotional and in-depth, yet maintains a fast and exciting pace. The contrast of dark and light moments show that Queen was not just the bright star we saw them as, but also had their downfalls.
Hey, we’re all human.
I walked out a bigger fan of Queen, and for those who didn’t know them before, they definitely became a fan.
Maddi Klayer, Staff Reporter