A review by Shlomoh Sherman
January 2, 2019
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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Plot Synopsis: The story of the legendary rock music band Queen and its lead singer Freddie Mercury.
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Anthony McCarten (story by), Peter Morgan (story by), Anthony McCarten(screenplay by)
Stars: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee
Plot Keywords: rock band - rock music - live aid - title based on song
Taglines: Fearless lives forever, Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds
Genres: Biography - Drama - Music
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language - See all certifications below
Parents Guide: See below
Country: UK - USA
Release Date: November 2, 2018 (USA)
Also Known As: Untitled Freddie Mercury Biopic
Filming Locations: Weybridge, Surrey, England, UK, London, England, UK, Hong Kong, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Opening Weekend USA: $51,061,119, November 4, 2018
Gross USA: $184,793,006, December 23, 2018
Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $433,000,000, December 13, 2018
Production Co: GK Films, New Regency Pictures, Queen Films Ltd, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, and others
Runtime: 134 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Atmos
Top Rated Movies #133 - Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins and 27 nominations. See more awards ╗
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Although this film appears to be about the rock band, QUEEN, it is only that in regard to its creation and further development by Freddie Mercury who is the real star of the movie. He is perhaps more the star than the young actor, Rami Malek, who recreates him brilliantly. Malek invests the role of Mercury with such intense energy that during much of the time I was watching, I was seeing more of Mercury than Malek. And this in spite of the fact that I never was a fan of Queen and virtually ignored them. Honestly, at the time of their greatest popularity, I found the obvious gay reference to their name to be offputting. And this is quite strange since most of my mature life I have never been particularly homophobic. Perhaps that feeling was only a reflection of my ambivalence about my own sexuality.
Seeing Bohemian Rhapsody is an emotional experience Watching Freddie's story unfold and seeing all that he had to overcome in terms of his ethnicity and his sexuality, the tension with his family, his wife, and his friends moved me very much.
Freddie Mercury was not an easy person to like. Yet he managed, in spite of all drawbacks, to win the love and loyalty of his audiences, and maybe more importantly, of the other musicians in the band. And this is brought across very dramatically in the movie.
Unlike other bands, Freddie and Queen purposely wrote music intending the audiences to participate in the performance. The film certainly states that Freddie composed WE WILL ROCK YOU for that very reason. And in the final sequences about Queen's participation in the 1985 LIVE AID concert to raise funds for the relief of the Ethiopian famine, demonstrate the audience's pure love to and identification with Freddie and Queen. Their performance has been called "pure magic" by at least one website. [https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2018/11/opinions/queen-live-aid-cnnphotos/]
While watching the sequence, all I could think was, Oh I wish I had been there!
Freddie Mercury, whose original name was Farrokh Bulsara, was the son of Parsi parents, born in Zanzibar. When he was a teenager, his family moved to India and later they emigrated to England. As Parsis, the Bulsara family practiced the Zoroastrian religion.
Zoroastrianism is a dualistic faith which pits Ahura Mazda, the god of light and goodness against Ahriman, a devil god of darkness and evil. It is the supreme religious duty of a Zoroastrian to live a life of MITSVOT, good deeds. Every good deed gives more power to Ahura Mazda and lessens the power of
From an early age, Freddie dreamed of being a singer. His voice had an amazingly wide vocal range. When the lead singer of the band Smile quits, Freddie approaches band members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, offering to become the band's lead singer. Impressed by his voice, the band agrees to hire him but they point out that he will have to do something about his protruding lips. Freddie points out that he has 4 extra lateral incisors, telling them that "the more teeth, the greater the range."
I found that humorously interesting since I originally had two extra laterals.
The film highlights the major events of Freddie's life and the band's career.
As Freddie's career and fame were growing, he formed a romantic relationship with a woman, Mary Austin, whom he met through guitarist Brian May. He and Austin lived together for several years in some form of common-law marriage. But after a few years, he entered into an affair with a male American record executive at Elektra Records. Eventually, he told Mary about the affair thereby ending their romantic relationship though they continued to remain close friends.
Freddie had other gay relationships but in the mid-1980s. he formed a long-term relationship with a hairdresser named Jim Hutton. In the film, Hutton makes Freddie prove that he is a dependable and decent person and friend before they will become lovers. Hutton became his last and permanent boyfriend.
In the movie, Freddie does not comment much about his sexual orientation, perhaps in an effort not to hurt his parents who already had a problem with his campy and flamboyant personality and artistic lifestyle. But the movie also shows that much of the time, he was openly gay. It does not show him allying himself to homosexual politics or to any LGBT causes.
As his career and that of QUEEN reached a highpoint, Freddie became HIV-positive. The film does not tell how he contracted AIDS but his lover, Hutton also tested HIV-positive.
Freddie and Hutton lived together till the end of Freddie's life but in his will, he left his London home to Austin, rather than Hutton. He had told her, "You would have been my wife. It should be yours.
Freddie died at the age of 45. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.
Freddie did not want Queen to be a conventional rock band. He wanted it to stand out among music that the rock fan public would find new and exciting. To that end, he proposed that elements of classical music be assimilated into a special song. Bohemian Rhapsody was created as that song. The ecellent article at
The word "Bohemian" in the title seems to refer to the region in the Czech republic or to a group of artists and musicians famous for living flamboyantly and defying convention.
There is an interesting sequence in which Freddie keeps asking Brian May to reach for a higher and higher falsetto as he sings GALILEO, to which another band member asks, "Who is Galileo"?
Some of the words in the song appear to be strange and out of place but they were probably inserted by Freddie as an expression of playfulness.
BISMILLAH is the Arabic expression which means "In the name of Allah."
Freddie's parents were deeply religious Zoroastrians, and growing up in their home may have influenced him to incorporate religious terminology into the song.
The Impact of WAYNE'S WORLD
There is a sequence in the Mike Meyers movie in which he and Dana Carvey sing along with a recording of Bohemian Rhapsody. I remember watching it and bursting into laughter.
"In the film, Wayne and his friends lip-synch to it in his car (the Mirth Mobile), spasmodically head-bobbing at the guitar solo. As a result of the movie, it was re-released as a single in the US and charted at #2
The band sent Meyers a note, "Thank you for using our song." The astonished Myers responded, "Thank you for even letting me touch the hem of your garments!"
In the movie, Myers plays a record executive who dismisses the song and refuses to release it as a single, claiming that, at 6 minutes, it is too long for radio airtime
Queen fans and Brian May often colloquially refer to the song as "Bo Rhap" (or "Bo Rap"). The name "Bohemian Rhapsody" makes many appearances in popular culture:
Weird Al Yankovic took the entire song and sung it to a polka tune, called simply "Bohemian Polka," which is on his 1993 album Alapalooza.
Freddie led an exciting life but there were aspects of it which were very sad. One such aspect was the emotional distance between him and his father due to his lifestyle. In the film, there is a kind of reconciliation between the two of them immediately after the Live Aid concert in which Queen helped raise a vast amount of money.
His father holds his hand and repeats the Zoroastrian creed,
There are so many fine actors in this wonderful movie that I could acknowledge but I especially want to say KUDOS to Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. I'll be shocked if he does not win an award for his performance in a very demanding role. Many of you may know Rami from his TV series, MR. ROBOT
As usual in my reviews, I quote another reviewer from IMDB.
It made me wish I were 65 years younger!
The film was, at its release, the highest-grossing musical biographical film of all time. Malek's performance was praised but the film received mixed reviews and contained historical inaccuracies.
In 2018, David Avery portrayed Mercury in the Urban Myths comedy series in an episode focusing on the antics backstage at Live Aid, and Kayvan Novak portrayed Mercury in an episode titled "The Sex Pistols vs. Bill Grundy".
Freddie was also portrayed by Eric McCormack (as the character Will Truman) on Will and Grace in the October 2018 episode titled "Tex and the City". Will once wanted to be Freddie Mercury in a talent show when he was little, but his mother forbade it leading to Will dressing as Mercury at the end of Jack's grandson's talent show in Texas.
Second movie for Lucy Boynton involving music and 80's years, after Sing Street (2016).
Sacha Baron Cohen was the original choice to play Freddie Mercury, with Stephen Frears to direct. Frears left the project due to creative differences with Brian May and Roger Taylor, who control the band's music and film rights. The deal with Baron Cohen fell apart after May objected to the project being a biopic of Mercury only, not the rest of Queen. May felt it should focus on the other members and the aftermath of Mercury's death. They didn't like the original draft by writers Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson. Baron Cohen considered it a historically accurate, outrageous portrayal of Mercury that does not shy away from Mercury's rough edges, including his well-documented homosexual encounters and promiscuity. May felt Baron Cohen was too much of a comedic actor to play Mercury well
British choreographer and movement coach Polly Bennett worked painstakingly with Rami Malek to perfect every nuance of Freddie's mannerisms. Every eye glance, every body turn, every cocky strut on stage and every flick of the microphone had to be just right.
Elton John and Freddie Mercury were very good friends in real life but Elton admits himself he was seething after seeing Queen's Live Aid set go down so well with the audience and on tv. Apparently he stormed up to Freddie after the band came off and only half jokingly said "You absolute bastard, you totally stole it. Nobody will be able to beat that" much to Freddie's pleasure.
For his role as Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek was fitted with special prosthetic teeth to recreate Freddie's prominent overbite. After filming wrapped, Rami kept the teeth as a memento from the shoot, eventually having them cast in gold.
On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Mike Myers/Christiane Amanpour (2018), Mike Myers said that during the making of Wayne's World (1992), he insisted that the song he and his friends listen to while driving would be "Bohemian Rhapsody". The producers felt it wouldn't be appropriate. Myers stood his ground, eventually threatening to quit the movie. Myers got his way, the movie became a huge hit, and the song reentered the charts, peaking at at #2 in the United States. The movie was credited for introducing Queen to a new audience. Myers also said that when he was offered a chance to appear in this movie, he accepted immediately without bothering to read the script.
Canadian singer Marc Martel lends his voice to the biopic as Freddie. They use a mix of his voice and Freddie's together, on top of Rami Malek's. In an interview, Malek said his singing was seamlessly mixed with both Freddie's and Martel's.
Rami Malek's movement coach for the part had him study Liza Minnelli in Cabaret (1972), as well as performances by Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and Aretha Franklin. Supposedly, these were the key inspirations for Freddie Mercury's performing style.
According to 'Freddie Mercury: His Life in His Own Words', compiled and edited by Greg Brooks and Simon Lipton (2011), Freddie Mercury said "Also, I have visions of actually having a film made of my life story, one day, which I would have a key part in. I might not play the lead myself. My dears, the things I've done in my lifetime... it'll be totally triple X-rated, I'll tell you!"
The band Smile seen at the beginning of the film take their name from the fact that Roger Taylor was training to be a dentist.
Playlist of Queen's Live Aid gig: "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Radio Ga Ga", call-and-response with the audience by Freddie (often nicknamed "Ay-Oh"), "Hammer To Fall", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (with an ending resembling that of "You're My Best Friend"), "We Will Rock You", "We Are The Champions". Later at night, Freddie and Brian would return to stage to perform "Is This The World We Created".
While Freddie and Mary are lying together and Freddie reaches up over his head to play her the now-famous Bohemian Rhapsody piano intro for the second section of the song, Rami Maleke is actually playing the correct notes in order, a feat quite difficult to do sight unseen, upside down and backward.
In Malaysia, this film is rated 18+ and some gay and bisexuality scenes are removed when the film is screened in Malaysian theaters, including the scene where Freddie Mercury tells Mary Austin that he is bisexual.
Ray Foster (Mike Myers) never removes his sunglasses.
Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) based her stage name on the song "Radio Ga Ga".
The EMI executive Ray Foster played by Mike Myers objects to the title "A Night at the Opera", saying that nobody actually likes opera. Although this goes unmentioned in this movie, A Night at the Opera (1935) is also the title of a 1935 Marx Brothers movie - and the title of Queen's next album, 1976's A Day at the Races (1937) was also the title of a Marx Brothers movie.
The film makes Freddie seem as though he came from nowhere when he joined Smile, like it was a secret he could sing. But he had been in bands since high school. In 1969 he joined the Liverpool-based band Ibex, later renamed Wreckage. When this band failed to take off, he joined a second band called Sour Milk Sea. However, by early 1970 this group had broken up as well.
There was a never a rift between Freddie and the rest of the band, as depicted, and the band continued touring and producing albums even as Freddie and the other members each pursued solo projects. They did take a hiatus from touring, as a band, at Brian May's behest, so as to concentrate on songwriting. Though they are depicted in June or July, 1985, as saying they hadn't played together in years, they in fact toured for much of the first half of 1985.
In reality, Freddie Mercury was not the only Queen member to record a solo project. Before Mercury's 1984 Mr. Bad Guy album, drummer Roger Taylor recorded his first solo album Fun in Space in 1981 and Brian May collaborated with several musicians to release the Star Fleet Project EP in 1983.
Freddie did not meet Brian May & Roger Taylor in a parking lot and sing for them. Freddie was a friend of Smile's lead singer Tim Staffell and was a fan of the band.
Freddie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. He was voted best male singer of all time in a 2005 poll organised by MTV
PARENTS GUIDE FOR BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018)
Certification: MPAA Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language
SEX AND NUDITY:
VIOLENCE AND GORE:
ALCOHOL, DRUGS & SMOKING:
FRIGHTENING & INTENSE SCENES:
FRIGHTENING AND INTENSE SCENES:
AWARDS FOR BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018)
.Golden Globe, USA 2019 Nominee Best Motion Picture - Drama
Read about Bohemian Rhapsody On the Internet Movie Data Base
Cast overview, first billed only:
Rami Malek ... Freddie Mercury
Lucy Boynton ... Mary Austin
Gwilym Lee ... Brian May
Ben Hardy ... Roger Taylor
Joseph Mazzello ... John Deacon
Aidan Gillen ... John Reid
Allen Leech ... Paul Prenter
Tom Hollander ... Jim Beach
Mike Myers ... Ray Foster
Aaron McCusker ... Jim Hutton
Meneka Das ... Jer Bulsara
Ace Bhatti ... Bomi Bulsara
Priya Blackburn ... Kashmira Bulsara
Dermot Murphy ... Bob Geldof
Dickie Beau ... Kenny Everett
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