While the country was voting, I took an exhilarating journey down memory lane. I went to see “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the new movie about Queen, the British rock super group, and Freddie Mercury, its flamboyant and controversial lead singer.
The film had a number of interesting storylines. The most important was the tribulations of Mercury’s lifestyle. This included the problems he had gaining acceptance from his father, sexual confusion throughout his life and his musical genius that led to significant issues with his band mates.
The movie began in 1970 when Freddie joined the group. During a 15-year period, Queen developed into a rock and roll force by experimenting with different concepts, and challenging its movie company supporters with innovative strategies that involved both music and the relationship with audiences. [As an aside “Bohemian Rhapsody” was six minutes long, and was shunned by many in the music business before becoming a gigantic hit.]
The saga ends just after Freddie is diagnosed with AIDs, which was a death sentence in the mid 1980s. The denouement was the band’s extraordinary performance in 1985 at Wembely Stadium in London as part Live Aid.
Rami Malek, acclaimed for his role in “Mr. Robot,” looks remarkably like Freddie and was expert in portraying the outrageous attitude and overt sexuality of the man. Malek’s Freddie was totally believable as he transitioned from heterosexuality to homosexuality. It was a painful journey, which resulted in great heartache and frustration for Mercury who continued to love his girlfriend, Lucy Boynton, even during his dangerous sexual exploits that ultimately led to his demise.
The real treat was the music that overwhelmed all other aspects of the film. Most of Queen’s famous songs were performed over the course of the show. They were totally awesome. Even if you are not old enough to fully appreciate Queen’s impact on rock and roll, you will walk away acknowledging that the band greatly influenced the music business.
It was an act that superseded four men singing songs. Freddie acted out each and every lyric while onstage. I couldn’t help feeling cheated by the short tenure of the band, 15 years, versus 50+ for the Stones, The Who, The Beetles and Bob Dylan.
The finale was the band’s performance at Live Aid. Bob Geldof, the organizer of the concert, allotted each performing group 20 minutes. During that short time, Queen solidified its place in rock and roll history. 100,000 adoring fans sang with Freddie. It was interactive rock and roll on the grandest scale.
Mercury was a swashbuckling, sexually charged performer. He experimented and played upon the sensitivities of those who adored him. But, he was never shy or embarrassed by his proclivities. His unbridled dalliances in real life ultimately were the cause of his death.
I doubt the film will win any Academy Awards, but I really enjoyed the show. It was highly entertaining and heart breaking. Go see the flick.
Most people are overwhelmed with the presence of Freddie. The fact is that his band mates were equally talented musicians. They include Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Beacon. The group sans Freddie played at Mercury’s memorial concert, which was another incredible event. The part of Freddie was performed by a number of different rock and roll legends.