“We need the kind of song teenagers can crank up the volume in their car and bang their heads to. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will never be that song.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” which hit theaters Nov. 2, is the inspiring story of Freddie Mercury’s rise to greatness in his time with the rock band “Queen.”
This scene, in which this particular line is credited to comedic actor Mike Meyers who played close-minded record executive Ray Foster in the film, generates a smug look, a slight chuckle and a washing feeling of triumph from every anticipatory “Queen-loving”—or simply “Queen” appreciative—movie-goer in the audience.
Though this line is also an ironic nod to a famous scene from the comedy film Wayne’s World, in which Meyers and fellow former SNL cast member Dana Carvey excellently rock out to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the early 90s, Foster’s denouncement of “Queen” and the band’s confident retort carries the essence of what eager fans wanted to see in the film; the legendary rock group enacting upon their reputation for defying the norm, continuing to succeed despite the ridicule surrounding them, and doing all of it with an untouchable confidence.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” would go on to become one of the greatest rock songs of all time, and teenagers around the world today know every word, note, sound effect and “Galileo” sung.
After the trailer was openly released, the possibilities for this film turned heads. In it, the public first saw Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, an already visually stunning prospect, and this, combined with a punchy mash-up of “Queen’s” greatest hits playing in the background, made for an exciting wait for what was to come.
In its opening weekend, the film hit $50 million in domestic ticket sales, a fairly decent quota considering the film’s budget of $52 million.
The critical conversation surrounding the film is fairly disappointing, likely due in part to the nearly uncontested hype for the film’s release that left the actual moviegoers’ experience feel like something was missing.
In fact, there were many details left out from the film. Important information is rushed frequently throughout the movie; album names are completely left out, the ideas and processes behind the creation of many famous hits are excluded, Mercury’s familial drama is hardly relevant to the narrative, his childhood is hardly mentioned at all—the list goes on.
Only so much of a man’s life can be packed into two hours and 15 minutes, and Freddie Mercury was no ordinary man.
Though many specifics are disregarded, the film remains centered in its focus; to honor his legacy. A lot of time in the film is dedicated to humanizing Mercury’s experience from being a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport in Longford, England to becoming one of the greatest rock artists of all time—and Malek was the perfect man to carry out this task.
The Mr. Robot actor is successful in capturing a powerful mix between the glamour and vulnerability that complicated Mercury’s life of stardom. The inclusion of Mercury’s history with “Love of my Life” muse Mary Austin, played by Lucy Boynton, plays a huge factor in this undertaking and was a necessary inclusion to begin the conversation of Mercury’s struggles with sexuality, trust and sense of self.
Though Malek clearly shines, his fellow actors in the film also act with finesse. Any Google search of side-by-side photos of the actors and the figures they’re portraying reveals the film’s success in casting on a physical level—actor Gwilym Lee is nearly indistinguishable as lead guitarist Brian May and Malek’s false teeth craft him into a captivating Mercury—but the actors’ performances extend appearance.
The band’s familial bond, something not often portrayed in any movie regarding rock and roll, is an important aspect captured by not only the script but also the chemistry between the actors. The band members share jokes, fights and tears throughout the film, and the audience is fully immersed in all of it.
The film ends with a true-to-story reenactment of “Queen’s” 1985 Live Aid concert performance which is raw, powerful and will leave you rushing home to search YouTube for the real thing.
The reveal of Mercury’s contraction of the HIV virus precedes this scene. This heartbreaking knowledge, combined with the myriad of loss and triumph which has led to this moment—in the film and in the band’s reality—makes for a complicated feeling of accomplishment and loss in the audience’s heart.
The film ends not with Mercury’s tragic end, but with one of the grandest performances in music history; a perfectly fitting bow tied atop the gift that is this biopic.
Though hours of film could be dedicated to retelling the entirety of Mercury’s life, “Bohemian Rhapsody” provides a rounded glimpse into the legend that is Freddie Mercury.