Sometimes when you’ve read a really gripping book, listened to some captivating music, watched engaging film or theatre production, seen a live gig and so on, it takes a little while to process the experience and unravel all the different thoughts, feelings and emotions triggered but restrained while you were so involved.
Last Saturday we went to watch the film Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Queen up to the time of Freddie Mercury’s final illness. There’s been so much written and said about the film, so many conflicting opinions but I have to say I went along with an open mind because, to be honest I’d not really taken much notice of it all. Although I like Queen’s music, I can’t say I’m much of a fan; I don’t have any albums, I only know their famous songs, I only know of Freddie Mercury and Brian May, and although I know the name Roger Walters I thought he was in a different band! I didn’t know what form the film would take, whether it was mainly about Freddie Mercury, whether it was about a particular time in the life of the band… I had, as I said, a completely open mind.
The film follows the story of the band, mainly from the point of view of Freddie – not his own view, but the perspective of his life. As a film it couldn’t include every last little detail and I’m sure many things were manipulated to make it hang together (real events are very messy and muddled, complicated and confusing – as well as so many extra little distracting details) and it had to last a typical film length; to cram in over twenty very busy years. People have nit-picked over details, that it doesn’t focus on particular aspects enough or too much, that certain characters should or shouldn’t be present, that ‘facts’ are incorrect, but it is a film, a movie and not a biographical documentary.
The film starts with young Freddie meeting up with Brian and Roger, and continues, fairly rapidly through their early years on the road, their first records, Top of the Pops, and the American tour. It charts their personal ups and downs and how Freddie’s personality and relationships affected – and maybe warped their unity as a group. The falling out is shown – very simplified and condensed of course, and their coming back together and of course their triumphant spot on Live Aid.
I thought it was wonderful, and the more I think about it the more I think so. The performances of the actors was terrific. not just Rami Malek as Freddie, but the other actors as well, even those in quite small parts. I was particularly interested in the other members of the band, who could have been completely overshadowed, but they weren’t. I didn’t know them, except for Gwilym Lee who I’d so often seen in Midsomer Murders playing the laconic Detective Sargent Nelson. In the film he was Roger May – which must have been a challenge, in which he succeeded – and some!
I’m sure I’ll ruminate some more on this, and I would like to see it again, so many little bits I think I missed, and also to enjoy it once more!