The story of Freddie Mercury is in some ways the tragic artist story. Here’s just a brief note from Wiki about his background which none of us really knew about until recently. “Farrokh Bulsara (5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991), known professionally as Freddie Mercury, was a British singer, songwriter and record producer, best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. He was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Mercury wrote numerous hits for Queen, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and “We Are the Champions”. He led a solo career while performing with Queen, and occasionally served as a producer and guest musician for other artists.
Mercury was born of Parsi descent on Zanzibar, and grew up there and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England, in his late teens. He formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS, having confirmed the day before his death that he had contracted the disease.” One more thing— his parents were Zoroastrian and felt forced to movie from India to Zanzibar to escape condemnation.
There are of course rockumentaries that involve the real band, but this movie is not that. This movie is its own entity going on for 134 minutes. And I have to say Rami Malek is fantastic as Freddie, and the person who plays Brian May (Gwilym Lee) looks spot on as Brian May. Very impressive. Some have complained that the movie soft soaps Freddie being gay, but I would disagree. In the first place, Freddie loved Mary Austin all his life, and they were engaged to be married. Once the band was becoming successful, there were many temptations, not the least of which is men coming on to Freddie, and not surprisingly, Freddie became confused, and then chose to go down a path that eventually led to many short term relationships with men, which in turn led to his contracting HIV Aids, and then dying prematurely in the early 1990s. It was a true tragedy. Possibly the man really did feel both ways, but there’s no doubt Freddie called Mary the real love of his life even after she married another man, which broke his heart. The movie is true to all this, and good for the producer. Here are Freddie’s own words about the relationship—-“All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible… The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage….We believe in each other. That’s enough for me. I couldn’t fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.”
As for Queen the band, they were fantastic live performers. No doubt. And they were indeed very experimental, trying all sorts of popular music on their albums. But none of their albums could really be called great from start to finish, except of course the Greatest Hits albums (I prefer the double CD one). But their hits were humongous and twice over Bohemian Rhapsody became a number one hit in the US. Few other records have ever done that (Nights in White Satin— Moody Blues, comes to mind).
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, especially the music. It’s well done, and even includes ‘Austin Powers aka Mike Myers in a cameo as a record exec for EMI. There is no nudity in this movie, or for that matter bad language, but this is an adult movie for adults.