Bohemian Rhapsody is a biographical movie about the history of the band Queen and the life of the legendary Freddie Mercury. We see how the fabulously flamboyant Freddie Mercury and the band finds their sound and rises to international fame. The trailer had us stomping our feet and going online to prebook tickets. And honestly, we weren’t disappointed. Here’s the trailer:
Even though the movie was emotionally moving, it wasn’t perfect.
ATTENTION: SPOILERS AHEAD
The films opening scene is of Freddie Mercury, played by Rami Malek, preparing himself to walk on stage at the Live Aid concert in 1985.
We jump back 15 years to 1970 and we see Farrokh Bulsara, a baggage handler, working at Heathrow Airport. Farrokh Bulsara is the birth name of Freddie Mercury. He always preferred to be called ‘Freddie’ but eventually legally changed his name to ‘Freddie Mercury’. We learn that his parents are immigrants from Zanzibar and practice Zoroastrianism, said to be the precursor of Christianity and one of the oldest religions in the world.
Freddie is a music lover and attends the show of his favourite band, Smile, at a club. At this club he walks past Mary Austin, played by Lucy Boynton. Freddie is immediately intoxicated by Mary and compliments her scarf. As Freddie leaves the club he finds the band members in the parking lot. The recently devastated band members are sitting in their van after finding out that their lead singer has quit. On electric guitar is Brian May, played by Gwilym Lee, and on drums is Roger Taylor, played by Ben Hardy. Once Freddie finds out they’ve lost their lead singer he offers to take up the position, but the band members, especially Roger, is uninterested especially because of Freddie’s unmissable overbite. But Freddie, being the confident diva that he is, belts out a few notes and leaves Brian and Roger stunned.
At the bands next gig, Freddie joins as the new lead singer and a new bassist joins, John “Deaky” Deacon, played by Joseph Mazzello. A year passes. ‘Smile’ is playing gigs across England and Freddie is dating Mary. Freddie is thinking further than gigs and gets the epiphany to sell the van, use the money to produce their first album and to change the bands name to Queen. After recording a demo, the band receives a call to meet John Reid, played by Aiden Gillen, who would like to manage the band.
We fast forward to 1975, and Freddie and Mary are at their apartment laying on a mattress. Freddie casually proposes to Mary and she accepts. Immediately after Mary accepts, the band members storm into their apartment to announce that their manager booked the band a tour of America. Their tour has sold-out shows every evening. We see Freddie and Mary slowly drifting apart as talks over the phone doesn’t have the same impact as physically being together. We also see Freddie become interested in another man while at a gas station. Nothing happens between them but Freddie’s intrigue and temptation is clearly visible.
After the tour, the band returns to England and wants to record their second album. They hire a lawyer named Jim Beach, played by Tom Hollander. Freddie feels that his name is too boring and decides that his new name is Tom “Miami” Beach. They all proceed to call him Miami. Freddie, who has dubbed himself the leader of the band, decides the new albums name should be “A Night At The Opera”. Very dramatic and rightfully so. The band goes to a house, with a studio, in the countryside where there will be no distractions when they record the album. At the house is Paul Prenter, played by Allen Leech, who is another manager. One evening while Freddie is at the piano, jotting down lyrics, Paul kisses him. Freddie doesn’t pull away immediately but also makes it clear that he feels uncomfortable by what Paul has done.
The band completes the recording of the album, as well as their hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. They present it to their producer, Ray Foster played by Mike Myers. They present Bohemian Rhapsody as the single to Ray but he doesn’t think that radio’s will play a 6 minute song. Ray and the band argues for a while and they eventually storm out and fire Ray as their producer. Freddie takes the song to a radio station where it is played for the first time to the public and it becomes one of the bands biggest hits.
The band does a world tour, and Freddie distances himself from Mary while on tour. When he returns home he admits to Mary that he thinks he’s bisexual and Mary tells him that she knows he’s gay while bursting out in tears. She then breaks off their engagement.
It’s now 1980. Freddie owns a house next to Mary but he is very lonely and it would seem that he’s depressed. He plans a largely extravagant party at his home and after the party Freddie and one the butlers, Jim Hutton played by Aaron McCusker, start speaking. The two speak for a while and share a kiss. Before Jim leaves, he tells Freddie to find him once he’s found himself.
Freddie is extremely lonely and he starts acting out. He is late for rehearsals and has a bad I-don’t-care attitude. He later announces that he’s signed a contract with CBS Records to do a solo album. This deeply upsets his fellow group members and they all believe he’s making a huge mistake.
We fast forward to 1984. Freddie is living in Munich, Germany where he is recording his album. Paul is his manager and controls most of his life. Freddie is dependent on Paul, cocaine and alcohol and has not seen his fellow band members for years. Mary has been trying to contact Freddie for a while to speak and to tell him about Live Aid, a benefit concert for Africa, but Paul always answers the phone and gives an excuse why Freddie is busy. One evening, Mary arrives at Freddie’s home in Munich and is pregnant. Luckily Freddie is alone, and they catch up and Mary brings up Live Aid, which Freddie has never heard of. Once Mary leaves, Freddie confronts Paul about why he has been keeping things from him and says he never wants to see him ever again.
Freddie contacts Jim “Miami” Beach and assembles his band mates to apologise for leaving them. He wants to reassemble to perform at Live Aid. The band starts rehearsals but Freddie starts coughing up blood. He visits the doctor and finds out he has AIDS.
It’s the day of the concert. He finds Jim Hutton and invites him with to watch the concert backstage with Mary and her husband. Freddie then stops at his childhood home and greets his parents who he hasn’t seen for years. The concerts starts and they perform four songs: Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, Hammer To Fall and We Are The Champions. The crowd and people all over the world watching the concert are brought to tears by the moving performance.
In the end, we are told that Freddie passed away in 1991 after living with Jim Hutton for the rest of his life. He remained good friends with Mary until he passed away. Jim “Miami” Beach and the band members created the Mercury Phoenix Trust to help fight AIDS.
Bohemian Rhapsody was a good movie, but it was not perfect.
- Rami Malek was the best person to play Freddie Mercury. He mastered his moves, mannerisms and has an uncanny resemblance. Malek successfully conveys the emotions Freddie felt and we, the audience, are able to relate to it through Malek.
The movie is extremely entertaining. Even though it is a sad and depressing at times, Freddie’s outrageous costumes and performance scenes lightens the mood and take us back to Queen’s prime time.
The biggest problem with the movie is that a lot of the plot twists and important moments are not factual. Crucial points in the movie was either made up or tweaked to add to drama in the movie.
- Freddie did not audition in the parking lot after Smile’s original lead singer quit. Freddie knew the band members before he joined the band and he had his own band before he joined Smile. According to Roger Taylor, Freddie basically begged them to join the band.
The Ray Foster character (played by Mike Myers) is fictional and is based on the EMI chief.
Freddie was not the first member of the band to release a solo album and the band never broke up while Freddie recorded his solo album.
Freddie did not meet Mary the same evening he watched Smile and Jim Hutton was not a butler, but rather a hairdresser and met Freddie in a nightclub.
Freddie did not find out about his AIDS status until after the Live Aid concert and his band mates only found out about his positive status in 1989.
But despite criticism, the movie is a hit and is doing well! It has raised almost $800 million in the box office and has won the awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Performance (Rami Malek) at the Golden Globes. It also has 5 Oscar nominations, 7 BAFTA nominations as well as 2 SAG nominations.
Let us know in the comments what you thought of the movie!