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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Cinema for the love of music..

Mercury in his early days..

Music is the food of the soul they say, and that’s true for most of the earthlings. Music sometimes can be the food of the soul by helping another art like cinema, adding  so many emotions to the scenes, to the things that we see on screen. When you ask people about their favorite music genre, there is always a probability of an answer like ‘soundtrack’ which is not actually a music genre, but it is so tasteful that people sometimes just listen to soundtracks and can experience all kinds of music, so their souls can be fed. I want to admit that I am one of those people. Films that don’t contain any kind of music at all are interesting and some of them are even good, but I adore the relationship of these two art forms.

After a general love letter to music, I also want to talk about one of the most loved bands of all time, Queen. The band was formed in 1970 in London. Guitarist Brian May and Drummer Roger Taylor who were the members of a band called ‘Smile’ lost their lead singer. The now legendary vocalist Freddie Mercury came to the rescue and they formed a band called ‘Queen’ with the addition of a bass guitarist John Deacon. They didn’t try to follow the rules they made their own rules, they made music which is independent from the concept of genre, mixed them together and created their own styles, which made people surprised at first, but the songs were written and performed by musical geniuses, so people loved them all.

Under normal conditions, there would be one or two members in a band who can write songs and usually one of them would be a little bit better than the other. Queen has a lot of hit songs, which became anthems over the years and they were written by not just one member, all of the band members wrote songs which became hits. They were much loved by the fans in the 70’s, 80’s..They are still much loved today, by the elders, adults, teenagers and even by children. Their music transcends the barriers of time, age, culture, language and geography. This film tells the story of Queen of course, but more than that it’s about Freddie Mercury, a creative, talented, charismatic, flamboyant front-man who has the vocal range of about four octaves. He was a special man, well-known, and adored by the millions, so it was a challenging task to portray Freddie Mercury but Rami Malek literally became him.

The film opens up with the day of the famous Live Aid concert in 1985, to the song ‘Somebody to Love’ (Freddie Mercury, his mom and Rami Malek’s favorite Queen song). Freddie wakes up and leaves his home and his many cats (he really loved his cats) to attend the occasion. Then with a flashback, we go to the early years of the band, we witness of its foundation with Freddie, Brian May, Roger Taylor and then John Deacon. Freddie Mercury meets Mary Austin, the love of his life, in these early years. The band makes an album and they meet Paul Prenter who will be an important figure in Mercury’s life, John Reid and Jim ‘Miami’ Beach (their managers). They become famous and give concerts all over the world, in the meantime Freddie and Mary gets engaged. But especially after he becomes closer to Paul Prenter, he discovers things about himself, about his private life that he didn’t realize before.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

He starts to live his life just like a Rock star, but loses the friendship and the warmth of his family and friends by  alienating them. He decides to make a solo album which makes the other members of the band angry and sad, then they split up. (In real life, it was Roger Taylor who made the first solo album and the band never split up unlike the movie.) At one point he realizes that he made a mistake and starts trying to get the band together which he succeeds. Near the end of the film, he meets Jim Hutton, his partner of the last six years of his life and he remains life-long friends with Mary. Just before the Live Aid concert for the famine in Africa, he learns that he is HIV positive (In reality, it isn’t exactly clear when did he learn that he was ill). He starts to loose his voice in the rehearsals, but when he takes the stage on Wembley Arena that day (we turn to the beginning of the film), it would be the most famous Rock performance in history.

Bryan Singer is credited as the director of the film, but he was fired from the production because of his absence near the end of filming, and Dexter Fletcher finished the shooting. Rami Malek studied Freddie Mercury with the help of a movement coach, and wore fake teeth to resemble Mercury’s famous appearance. Lucy Boynton portrays Mary Austin, Gwilym Lee  portrays Brian May (with a surprising resemblance), while Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Aaron McCusker portray Roger Taylor, John Deacon, John Reid, Paul Prenter, Jim Beach and Jim Hutton respectively. Mike Myers  plays a fictional EMI executive Ray Foster. He stated that when he was asked about playing in a film about Queen, he said yes without bothering to read the script. As you know, he was the star of  Wayne’s World, which was responsible of making a generation of moviegoers Queen fans because of the famous opening scene with the song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Thanks to Bohemian Rhapsody, we could witness the band’s rise to fame, creation of the famous songs that we love. The creation processes of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ were especially interesting. Seeing the recreation of Live Aid concert was an experience I’ll never forget, just after learning more about the band members’ personal lives and the story of this concert, it meant certainly much more and to think that it was shot on the first day of filming is insane. Then there is Rami Malek who is just sensational, he portrayed him divinely. Portraying Freddie Mercury was a real challenge, and I was a bit prejudiced at first, thinking no one could achieve that properly. I only watched him in Night at the Museum before, but after watching him in Bohemian Rhapsody, I realized that it was my loss not watching his earlier work. He is one of the best actors of his generation.

I’m writing this review in the 17th of February and Academy Awards will be presented in the 24th of February, and I’m sure this review will be published after that day. So when you read this, he will probably already be an Oscar winner, fingers crossed. Allen Leech as Paul Prenter is deliciously evil. Of course, without its other members this wouldn’t be a film about the band. Actors who played Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon; Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joe Mazzello are great, too. These four young actors stated in their interviews that they became good friends and inseparable, it is nice to hear the soul of the band lives with these talented group of actors.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Brian May and Roger Taylor collaborated on the film and they were with the cast and crew before, through and after the production. They attended the award ceremonies and even took the stage when the film was awarded with a Golden Globe for the best motion picture-drama. They brought some air of Rock’n Roll royalty to the Hollywood. And I just want to say that now the classic 20th Century Fox Fanfare’s newly recorded version by Brian May was a nice touch. Costume, make-up and set designs are becoming for a film about Freddie Mercury, considering his education of graphic design and his eclectic and exotic taste in fashion. The singing was a mixing of the voices of Rami Malek, Marc Martel (whose voice resembles Mercury), but most of all Mercury himself.

The soundtrack is one of the bests as you can expect from a Queen biopic (which is one of the reasons why I saw the film). Somebody to Love, Keep Yourself Alive, Bohemian Rhapsody, Love of My Life, Another One Bites the Dust, I Want to Break Free, Who Wants to Live Forever, Hammer to Fall, We Are the Champions are some of the songs that you can hear. In the closing credits, we can see the real Queen, performing ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’ I take off my hat to the people who made  the decision of ending the film with the legendary Live Aid concert, it was like finishing on top. The ending was so emotional and moving, I was crying with joy for the love of the songs.

If you like music, biography and drama you will like this film for sure. If you love Freddie Mercury and Queen, do yourself a favor and watch this film  because you will adore it. Bohemian Rhapsody will certainly make a new generation of people know and love Queen and it has my respect for that from the start. As a cinema and music fan, who couldn’t decide which of the Queen’s songs is my favorite, this film was a joy to watch on screen.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

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Gamze Akan

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