Bohemian Rhapsody 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

I wouldn’t call myself a Queen fan, but I have always loved their music. I don’t know exactly when I became familiar with them, but I know it’s a love I share with my father, so that most certainly had something to do with it. I was excited when the trailer was released and decided in that instant that I’m going to watch the movie no matter what. I believe that was maybe a year ago.

A few days ago I finally got to see it, and it was everything I hoped for and more. It was an incredible cinematic and musical experience. I don’t think I have felt anything like this after watching a movie. There  were so many emotions I could barely take it. The pain, the feeling of isolation, the awe and the scale of it all, trying to comprehend what it feels like to play in front of a stadium full of people knowing that the entire world is watching. The sound design and the cinematography was superb. The opening scene was clever and creative. Freddie wakes up and coughs. My heart sank. It was so sad that the movie had to show four cats in order to help the audience recover. All this time, we don’t see Freddie’s face. We see his back, walking. There is a spring in his step, full of energy. We don’t know where he is yet. He runs up a short staircase and we come face to face with tens of thousands of people. Complete surprise. The crowed screams, the camera zooms in as if sucked in by the excitement. End of scene. I knew exactly what was happening, but even if I wouldn’t have, it would have been intoxicating to watch.

 

Reviews and culture

After I got home I listened to a few songs, watched the concert and looked at some reviews, because I wanted to know what other people thought about the movie. I did not expect to see 100% positive reviews, but I was also surprised about some of the things I have read/heard. I know that negativity and ranting usually bring in more views, but it is really tiring at this point. I find it a little bit concerning that a movie could get someone so worked up that they are basically frothing from the mouth, while heavily gesticulating at the camera like some fugitive mental patient. Thankfully, this type of behavior is on the decline. I think it peaked about 2 years ago and we are going to see less and less content like that. People are tired of the drama; and I have to preserve my energy to read the news every day, so let’s move on.

 

Fair criticism

As I have mentioned before I browsed through some content (some in Hungarian, some in English) to see what’s up. The complaints ranged from shockingly dumb to “wow, I can’t believe we just watched the same movie”. If your main problem is that Rami Malek’s eye color was different and that the Live Aid crowd was too fake I have nothing to say to you. I don’t know when was the last time that I encountered so much unfair press to the point that it’s ridiculous. For example, let’s take a look at this:

So, Rubber is quite possibly one of the worst movies ever made. It’s unwatchable. I would dare you to watch it and prove me wrong , but the thought of other people’s suffering makes me shiver, so… yeah don’t do it? You can tell it’s a great movie, because it begins with a 5 minute monologue trying to justify why it exists in the first place. I know it’s supposed to be funny, (it’s not) and the two movies are completely different genre, but if I ask someone which of the two movies are more enjoyable, and the answer is Rubber, I’m going to question their sanity.

There is some fair criticism regarding Bohemian Rhapsody. Probably, the most important one is not defining what it was like being a homosexual when and where Freddie was growing up. In England sexual activity between men was illegal until 1967. I don’t think this was mentioned at all, but correct me if I’m wrong. If it wasn’t they should have at least mentioned it. Foreign audience, especially from a younger generation are probably not familiar with English laws. The other point that I hear a lot was that the movie was not very in-depth, which it wasn’t. Anyone going into this movie wanting to see all the juicy details of Freddie Mercury’s life is going to be disappointed. The movie is a celebration of his life as a musician and it doesn’t really focus on anything else. Some people argue about him being gay or bisexual and ultimately it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that despite not being straight and despite being an immigrant, he managed to capture the hearts of millions of people with his voice and personality.

 

Other things that should be obvious, but aren’t

The one thing that bothered me the most is trying to demonize the other members of Queen, presenting them as nothing more than greedy and evil men, because there can’t possibly be another motivation for doing or not doing something, other than money. It is really easy to forget that Freddie Mercury was an unreachable idol for most people, but for a select few he was a close friend and when he died he left a void behind. Not only did he die, but he died suffering. It was not quick, it was painful. The people who were with him at the time will carry that memory with them for the rest of their life. Once you realize this, it’s really not that hard to imagine why some of the decisions were made, while making the movie. People criticize how Freddie announced that he got aids and that they hugged it out at the end, and that it was unrealistic. Of course it was unrealistic. In reality, it probably caused lifelong trauma. Telling your family and friends that you have a terminal illness and then coping with it on both sides takes a little bit more than five minutes. Is there really a need to point this out? As far as how “clean” all the band members were depicted compared to Freddie, I only have to say that they also toned down Freddie a lot. I think they were uncomfortable showing him partying and only did it because it was something that people expected. There was really nothing there that was outrageous. There was some powdered sugar on the table and he was shown drinking. Try to compare this to his 39th birthday party, which made rock and roll history.

“I won’t be a rock star, I will be a legend.”

A few hours before I watched the movie I met a woman. She is a stranger to me, our only connection is that we are both Hungarian and that’s how we started talking in the first place. Anyway, I mentioned to her that I’m going to see the movie and how excited I’m, and then she told me that she watched it already and she loved it. She also told me that she didn’t want to see it at first, because she was afraid that the movie would show Freddie dying, and she didn’t want to see that. She only went to watch it after her friends told her “everything is okay, that part is not in the movie at all.” Overall, this is not a perfect movie, but it is the movie that most people wanted to see. It is nice that people decided to remember the artist, the musician, the voice, and not the drama. There is something positively uplifting about it.

Also, Rami Malek was awesome. Everybody else did a great job too, but he especially stood out. I honestly didn’t think anybody can pull this off, but he went beyond all expectations. I hope he wins an Oscar.

So yeah, go watch Bohemian Rhapsody if you haven’t seen it yet. I will probably watch it again, because it’s tons of fun. There are documentaries and interviews on YouTube, I will link a few interesting ones below, so you can sort through them if you want.

best,
Alice
alice@cozyloft.us

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Footnotes

Freddie Mercury’s final days. link

Brian May and Roger Taylor, 1 week after Freddie Mercury’s death. link

Brian May interview. The topics include God, science, the universe and death link

Behind the Scenes. link

Queen — The Final Tour. link

Rami Malek: On Becoming Freddie Mercury link

As part of the Magic Tour, Queen performed in Budapest, Hungary. The original footage has been remastered and you can watch it here in HD. The footage is from a DVD called “Hungarian Rhapsody – Queen Live in Budapest.” It was released in 2012, but you can still buy it here.

This is also from the DVD link

Rubber review by the Nostalgia Critic link