Bohemian Rhapsody is a dramatised account of rock band Queen’s beginnings, their rise to phenomenal international stardom and their forays into musical styles that challenged well-known conventions of rock music.
Aficionados will know Queen, Freddie Mercury, their music and its impact on rock. This presents a challenge for director Bryan Singer to keep the well-known details fresh and energised.
Moments that show the genesis and recording of Queen’s major hit records, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust and We Will Rock You, will have you stomping your feet.
Singer captures the mood and anthemic fervour of those songs. The creative process in the recording studio and the influences that impacted on Queen’s hit songs fascinate us.
The dramatic events surrounding Freddie Mercury becoming Queen’s lead singer and writer of some of their iconic songs are less concise.
I went online to search for missing pieces of information about Queen that had been touched upon in Bohemian Rhapsody without providing enough details. This produced gaps in the band’s development that were frustrating.
Mercury emerges as the main figure in the film due to his flamboyant personality and definite ideas about shaping the band’s image in a direct attempt to become rock superstars. He embraces stardom and all its trappings.
Although Mercury, May, Taylor and Deacon form a tight-knit unit that they equate to being a family, Freddie’s vision is all encompassing. He becomes the movie’s pivotal figure.
There are references to Mercury’s actual family and their reactions to his career path and sexuality. The film drifts into and out of these moments and often hints at expressions of feelings and emotions rather than revealing those moments in a forthright fashion.
Singer emphasises Mercury’s lifelong dependence on his first true love, Mary, while consigning his devoted partner, Jim, to a minor status.
The other members of the band are portrayed as unexceptional individuals outside the parameters of the band, typical suburban dwellers rather than misfits.
Bryan Singer has been very kind in portraying Mercury and Queen as inspired but flawed artists. Queen’s lifestyle is sanitised.
Naming the film after one of Queen’s most well known songs, Bohemian Rhapsody, tips us off that the story is operatic in scale and monumental in its intent. Audience comments, including from keen Queen fans, are the final arbiters as to whether audiences will enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody and they thought it was terrific.