Updated: Oct 12, 2022
By Tessa Jillson
On Nov. 2, Queen fans and music lovers alike packed into theaters worldwide to see the debut of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” singing until their lungs and hearts burst while fully immersed in the rise and legacy of the greatest rock band in history.
The movie, like the band, shatters conventions as viewers are taken on a winding journey, backpacking around the world with the band, and following the anarchic lifestyle of Freddie Mercury.
Many critics were upset with the way the film was directed, questioning whether it is a Queen tribute or a Freddie Mercury biopic.
I argue that it’s both.
The movie begins with shy and awkward teen Farrokh Bulsara rocking out to a local band at a club in England. The film follows Bulsara as he spontaneously auditions for the band outside the club, falls in love with a woman named Mary, and signs his first record deal – transforming into the eccentric lead singer Freddie Mercury we’ve come to know and love.
The adaptation of the band as a whole was powerful and well-produced. Writer Anthony McCarten and directors Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher presented the band as accurately as possible. They are depicted as a dysfunctional family of outcasts who can barely ever get along – role models for people who don’t usually fit it.
Throughout the movie, we see every band member equally contributing to the production of each hit song, establishing their own sound through Mercury’s incessant, and sometimes irritating, efforts toward perfection.
While the movie depicts many scenes that never happened in reality, they add to the emotional appeal of the film, which is one reason why the film resonates.
For example, Mercury did not realize he had AIDS until after the Live Aid performance, which was the ending scene in the movie. In the film’s adaptation, Mercury finds out he has AIDS a little more than half way through the movie and tells the band before the Live Aid performance.
By the end of the night, it seemed as if everyone was in tears.
The film was perfectly cast. Rami Malek who plays Mercury in the film impressively recreated Mercury’s bizarre personality as Malek’s mannerisms were eerily similar to Mercury’s. He fully channeled Mercury’s pain and isolation as he struggles throughout the movie with addiction and self-reflection, which made me conclude that Malek single-handedly carried the movie on his shoulders.
Legendary Queen guitarist Brian May even advised actors on their roles to help them familiarize themselves with their characters.
Even though many of the movie’s reviews are negative, I believe that this adds to the band’s overall notoriety.
In the movie when Queen plays their song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” as their newest single, their record label executive cries, “Nobody wants to listen to a six-minute opera song with words like ‘Galileo’ in it!” But defying all odds, the band ignored the criticism and the song became a number one hit.
You too should ignore the criticism.