by Kara Thompson ’20
Whether it’s the iconic stomp-stomp-clap from “We Will Rock You” or the moving anthem that is “We Are the Champions,” everyone has heard a Queen song. The film, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” named for one of the band’s most famous songs, follows the rock band Queen from their formation in 1970 and through their journey as a band, focusing specifically on lead singer Freddie Mercury, played by Rami Malek.
Queen officially forms after the band “Smile” that Mercury had been following loses its lead singer and bass player. After hearing Freddie sing, remaining members Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) recruit him on the spot, followed soon after by John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) on bass guitar. The name “Queen” is suggested by Mercury, on brand with his flair for the eccentric.
The film follows the band through their early years as they redefine the genre of rock music, experimenting with new and unheard of vocals, sounds, and ideas. Mercury’s out-there style mixed with the rest of the members’ willingness to be progressive drew fans from various demographics, while also causing some issues with representation and critics, who doubted their unique sound would sell.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” also went in-depth with Mercury’s struggles with his identity, both as someone of Parsi descent as well as someone coming to terms with with his sexual identity. Mercury was given the name Farrokh Bulsara at birth, but legally changed it after joining Queen. Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), Mercury’s fiance, ended up leaving him after suspecting he was gay, though Mercury identified as bisexual. The two remained good friends for the remainder of Mercury’s life.
After the band’s initial success, Mercury turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the madness of touring and partying. He began to butt heads with other band members often, and struggled with his mental health. In a moment of weakness, Mercury accepted a deal to make two solo albums. Without the support from the band, Mercury fell even deeper into his addictions as he struggled to keep up with a musician’s lifestyle and the fame that comes with it.
Mercury, after discovering he has AIDS, reunited the band, and their first performance together again happens at a major concert fundraising for charity. Their performance in 1985 at Live Aid was later voted the greatest rock performance of all time.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is an engaging, powerful movie that gives an extensive look at the life of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen. Its upbeat, touching soundtrack accompanied with outstanding acting creates a movie experience you do not want to miss.