To say that I was excited for Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic that was released on Friday, November 2nd would be the biggest understatement of the year. My father raised me on Queen and Freddie Mercury. One of my most vivid memories is sitting at a baseball game when they played “We Will Rock You” and the entire stadium shook with the stomps of the enormous crowd. My life is neatly tucked into a Queen envelope. When I saw it on opening night, I was floored.
For those listeners of Queen who don’t know their history, but know tons of their songs and albums, here’s a quick run down. Mercury was a fan of this band called Smile. At a show for Smile, the lead singer left the other band members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Well, no need to fear, Freddie Mercury, with his four octave range, is here to save the day. This incredible range is because of his four extra incisors, which gives him more room in his mouth to form notes. From there, the trio found bassist John Deacon, and thus was the rock legend Queen was born.
The movie began with a sequence following Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek), on his way to a concert in England’s Wembley Stadium, set to the song “Somebody To Love”. Right as the bass hit, the audience was suddenly at Heathrow Airport in 1970, where Mercury worked as a baggage handler. A strong theme in the movie is Mercury’s struggle with his heritage. He was born in Zanzibar as Farrokh Bulsara and was raised as a Parsi. Parsis are Zoroastrians who emigrated to India to avoid religious persecution by the Muslims. He and his father are also a great example of the old and new generation. His father is the old generation Parsi, very uptight, very proper. Mercury, however, is the new, sort of punky, out there type of generation.
One of my favorite aspects of this movie was the fact that they actually showed Mercury’s struggle with his sexuality. At the aforementioned Smile concert, he met a woman named Mary Austin. This woman became consequential in Mercury’s life, even serving as his muse for the song “Love of my Life”. They later married and were quite happy until Queen went on tour in the US while Austin remained in Britain. During this tour, Mercury met a plethora of people, especially men who he spent the night with. When back in Britain, he attempted to tell his wife that he was bisexual. Austin, however, had had her suspicions and told Mercury that he was gay. At least, this is what the movie showed. I assume this was done private and no one really knows if Austin was the one to tell him. Throughout this whole ordeal, Mercury and Austin remained close, both in relationship, him calling her ‘darling’ and ‘my love’, and in proximity, when he bought her a house directly next to his own.
Another aspect I truly appreciate is the honest showing of homosexuality and AIDS during the time. In movies now, when there’s a gay character, odds are there won’t be a problem with their relationship, at least one where the relationship is totally over. In Bohemian Rhapsody, however, there is a whole failed, abusive, manipulative, gay relationship between Mercury and a character named Paul Prenter. I won’t go into it too deeply because I can’t just spoil the movie like that. However, to ease your hearts, it all ends beautifully. But, because of Mercury’s sexual exploits, before knowing the true dangers of STDs, he was diagnosed with AIDS in late April, 1987. He denied it for as long as he could but it was revealed posthumously to the public. His close friends, family, and partner of course knew.
I could go on for hours about this movie. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I’m the same girl who saw The Greatest Showman five times. I strongly urge you to see it as soon as possible. But I would also bring tissues if you’re particularly emotional, as I am.