Friday Film Review - "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Nov 30, 2018

The New rockumentary Bohemian Rhapsody, tells the behind-the-scenes story of Queen, and the band’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury

"Bohemian Rhapsody" is a rock biopic that follows the trajectory of Freddie Mercury and his Queen bandmates from their humble beginnings playing pubs outside of London to selling out some of the largest concert venues worldwide.

Fans of the band may already be familiar with the backstory of Mercury, who was born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, and later moved to England as a teen with his family in the 1960s. It was Mercury’s unique voice, and exotic looks, that opened up a new world of opportunity for the self-proclaimed outsider.

A fan of a local band called Smile, Mercury approached band members guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor following a performance when their lead singer quit. In the right place, and at the right time, Mercury teamed up with May and Taylor, and recruited bass player John Deacon to form Queen in 1970.   

A mash up of misfits, the band mates had little in common, but together they created some of the most unique music in the era of progressive rock, with a mix of hard-rock, pop, heavy-metal, and opera. Their unique sound, quickly caught the ear of John Reid, who also managed Elton John, and Queen soon became rock and roll royalty.

Much of the film traces the origins of many of Queen’s songs - most notably Bohemian Rhapsody, which was written and recorded while the band was on a recording retreat in the English Countryside, which resulted in one of the band’s signature albums – 1975’s A Night at the Opera, the most expensive album ever recorded at that time.

The film also takes a look behind the music at Mercury’s personal life, from meeting the love of his life, Mary, to his later years as an openly gay man.

Freddie Mercury is brought to life in the film by Rami Malek, an actor best known for his leading role in the USA network series Mr. Robot. Rounding out the cast, and the band are Gwilim Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon.

Mike Meyers appears in a priceless cameo as record executive Ray Foster – in what could possibly be a casting payback as Meyers famously performed a head banging, carpool karaoke version of Bohemian Rhapsody in the classic scene from Wayne’s World.

Fans of Queen will enjoy the heavy emphasis on the band’s music throughout the film. To portray Mercury, Malek’s voice was augmented by a cover vocalist and mixed with Mercury’s recordings. Malek was also fitted with prosthetic teeth to replicate Freddie's famous buck-teeth and overbite.

Running just over two hours and rated PG-13 (for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language), "Bohemian Rhapsody" begins and ends with the band’s legendary performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium. It’s a must see for Queen fans and anyone looking to immerse themselves in two hours of 1970’s rock culture.

The Friday Film Review is sponsored by the Park City Film Series.