Jennifer Zuniga Advertising Manager
On Nov. 2, 2018, the foot-stomping film celebration of Queen titled “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released. The film traces the exponential rise to fame of the British glam-rock band, their music, and the life of their legendary lead singer Freddie Mercury.
Growing up, you must have heard some of their songs, such as “We are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Somebody to Love,” and, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered conventions to create Queen’s iconic songs and revolutionary sounds.
Queen cements a legacy that continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers, and music lovers to this day. The movie flashes back to scruffier days in London, when young Freddie Mercury joined a band with his fellow college classmates. Freddie had to fight against his conservative Indian Parsi family to pursue a career in music. Despite this conflict, he still went for it because he knew that he was destined for great things.
Freddie took unexpected turns, surrounded by darker influences, and shunned Queen in pursuit of his solo career. Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie managed to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid, the dual-venue benefit concert the band performed as part of in 1985. After being diagnosed with AIDS, Freddie lead the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.
The film depicts Mercury’s struggles with his sexuality and need for creative autonomy, and how this deeply affected his marriage to Mary Austin. The film also conveys how taboo the topic of homosexuality was at the time, and the complication of gay politics as ’70s sexual liberation gave way to the AIDS crisis of the ’80s. To further expand this, Freddie’s love affair with Paul Prenter, a member of Queen’s management team, is portrayed for maximum scandal, a nightmare of debauchery, addiction, and exploitation, displays Freddie in the role of the corrupted innocent.
Although I greatly enjoyed “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I found some parts to be very cliché. The film tells the beautiful and complicated story of a legendary band striving to get to the top and taste both the sweet and sour sides of success, which is seen in so many other stories. A misunderstood genius suffers for his art, alienates those who care for him the most, and finds forgiveness and redemption. A lot of the story may be true, but not everything felt completely authentic to me.
The film doesn’t fully capture the glorious and unlikely artifice of Queen, a band whose scrambling of sexual and musical codes remains a remarkable phenomenon in the history of popular culture. “Bohemian Rhapsody” supplies a reminder that the band existed, but it conveys only a superficial sense of what it was. Despite this, the movie will bring you tears, laughter, and smiles as you remember Queen and the good old days where you would rock on to their songs.