by Julia Vaccarella ’20
It is no question that many of the songs and albums created by the members of the renowned British rock group, Queen, continue to enrapture many listeners to this day. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the film, Bohemian Rhapsody, which chronicles the band’s major milestones and highlights the life of lead singer Freddie Mercury, has made such an impact on the box office following its Nov. 2 release. Starring Rami Malek, the movie is strongly guided by biographical events, culminating with Queen’s performance at the Live Aid concert in the year 1985.
Many critics have positively commented on Bohemian Rhapsody’s lead performance, with Malek as Freddie Mercury. While the movie ultimately provides an adequate picture of Queen’s rise to prominence, a significant focus is placed on aspects of Mercury’s personal life. Rolling Stone says, “And there is Malek, who digs so deep into the role that we can’t believe we’re not watching the real thing, starting from the singer and actor sharing an immigrant experience (the actor’s parents are from Egypt, Mercury’s from Zanzibar).”
In fact, it is revealed that Freddie Mercury was born with the name Farrokh Bulsara, but he opted to legally change his name thereafter. The movie goes far beyond delving into his family life, though. Bohemian Rhapsody also provides a picture of Mercury’s personal struggles, and how he chose to handle such issues whilst being in the spotlight.
As to be expected, much of the appeal for Bohemian Rhapsody has come from its interpretation of Queen’s music. For example, the film narrows in on the band’s innovative sound while creating the Night at the Opera album, embracing the members’ persistence to utilize “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the album’s leading single during a time where music of the sort was never heard on radio stations. The film also incorporates Queen’s effort in working towards involving their audience more during concerts, namely with the song “We Will Rock You.”
The Wall Street Journal describes this dynamic perfectly. In a piece summarizing several film releases during the opening weekend of Bohemian Rhapsody, the newspaper affirms, “Malek’s ability to adopt the personality and essence of Freddie Mercury has been supported by both longtime fans of Queen and younger audiences that are eager to learn more about the band’s history.”
The height of Queen’s success has extended well past its formation in the 1970s. Furthermore, many individuals today are still familiar with a wide array of the band’s songs, from “Somebody to Love” to “Bohemian Rhapsody” itself. Bohemian Rhapsody attempts to offer viewers a personification of Queen’s music and the backstory of a band that will surely continue to have a long-lasting legacy going forward.