Sunday, 20 May 2018


70. “…and this is where the operatic section comes in.”


It is difficult to gauge what a two-hour film could be like to watch from a ninety-second trailer, especially if the film may not actually be finished yet, but the trailer for the upcoming Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” has got up quite a few noses, especially that of “Heroes” and “American Gods” producer Bryan Fuller, who took to Twitter to note there was “no indication of [Freddie Mercury’s] love of men,” while showing him “flirting and twirling with a woman.”

Well, there is one shot of a sitting down on a piano stool next to Mercury, and another of Mercury handing a record to a radio DJ, presumably Kenny Everett, who played “Bohemian Rhapsody” endlessly on Capital Radio in 1975, helping it become a hit. However, these shots last around one second each, and are easy to miss without knowing the context of them.

Now, I was ready to plough into a screed about the continued lack of LGBT representation in Hollywood, and how Rami Malek’s apparently faultless portrayal of Mercury will be tempered by neglecting to acknowledge his sexuality or his having suffered from HIV and AIDS. I became a Queen fan in 1991, not knowing that its lead singer would be dead by the end of the year, and still remember why the tribute concert at Wembley Stadium the following year was being staged – with Elton John also performing there, having left rehab in 1991 for drug and alcohol addictions, this time, for me, was a very formative one for life lessons about health, probably more than school could provide.

The main problem with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” right now, is that it has not been communicated clearly what it has meant to be about. The earlier complaints about its portrayal of Mercury would be completely valid if we knew it was primarily a biography of Mercury. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case – it is meant to be a biopic of Queen the band, from their formation to their performance at Live Aid in 1985, cementing their global reputation. This timeframe comes before any public knowledge of Mercury’s private life, but you would expect some illusion to it, even if it is not the focus. It doesn’t help that the public’s perception of Queen is preserved in aspic with its original lead, Freddie Mercury - the band’s current success in touring with Adam Lambert is purely down to Lambert’s ability match Mercury’s energy and range while performing live, which even Mercury rarely did.

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