I think that everyone, when told that Freddie Mercury and Queen were to be the subject of a new film, said: of course. There can hardly be any other singer, any other band, that would make a more riveting, fascinating and completely over the top biopic than the incredibly flamboyant Freddie Mercury and the almost equally OTT band, Queen.
The film hasn’t got off the starting line scot free, and in fact the making of the film has become a rollercoaster ride of a story in and of itself. Famously having taken ages to actually appear after first being seen as happening back in 2011, it went through a conga line of various directors, actors and contributors.
+++scroll down for a chance to win two tickets to the IMAX version of Bohemian Rhapsody starring Rami Malek! +++
Initially slated to star as Mercury was the comedian and prankster Sascha Baron Cohen, but he left, citing creative differences (apparently he wanted to make a more adult-oriented film that focused more on the question and consequences of Freddie’s sexuality, while Brian May especially – drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May were creative consultants – wanted to keep it a bit more family viewing). Directors came and went, Ben Whitaker was mulled over as the next lead actor, but finally it all came together with a Bryan Singer back in the director’s chair and Mr. Robot star Rami Malek as lead.
Most critics point to Rami Malek’s mesmerising performance as Freddie Mercury as the biggest reason to go and see the film
In fact since the film has appeared in cinemas in the US, most critics point to Rami Malek’s mesmerising performance as Freddie Mercury as the biggest reason to go and see the film. Putting in a stellar performance, which involved getting used to talking (and singing) with prosthetic teeth and employing a movement coach, Rami has stretched his creative wings with a role miles away from his now famous Mr. Robot persona.
As well as this rather complicated history, critics have spoken of various inaccuracies and a lack of resolve in dealing with Freddie Mercury’s outrageous and outrageously sexual lifestyle (as well as portraying the rest of the band as relative saints, which I’m not completely sure was the case). But you know, the thing is, it’s a film. A Hollywood film (actually a joint venture between US and UK film companies). Hollywood films are never going to give you a thoroughly accurate, blow-by-blow biopic of the kind that this might have been.
At the end of the day it’s about entertainment, and if you want to know the intricate – and often contrary – details of Queen the band and Freddie Mercury the extraordinary, larger-than-life rock performer and 100% OTT personality, then do the work and read a proper biography – or two. I can’t help but think that this is the kind of film that Mercury would have wanted – he never had the urge to have people “understand” him, and he was definitely more interested in glitter, glow and entertainment value than the often difficult truths that may have underpinned the glamour.
At the end of the day, you only have one choice: go and see the film and make your own mind up.
What we’re extra excited about is that the film is on in the IMAX theatre, which means loads of speakers and stunningly big screens, for that particular front-of-the-stage Queen feeling! Here’s the schedule for Bohemian Rhapsody in the IMAX…And we’re happy to help you get that Queen/Bohemian Rhapsody/IMAX experience! We’re giving away a pair of tickets to the film – just write to us at win (at) indieberlin.de and you could be striding out onto stage with Freddie/Rami one of these nights!
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.