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Bohemian Rhapsody Perfect Enough For Fans

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader


Being continually broke, I donít go to as many movies as Iíd like to. If I go to ten movies a year, thatís all I can afford. Iíd like to see more, but Iíd have to work more, and working seven days a week, Iím not sure what else I could be doing. In college, I had a babysitting job where I got paid to sleep. Both parents worked third, and they wanted an adult in the house. I studied, I listened to music, I slept. It was a great gig. I might be up for something like that again, especially if the kids were in bed by the time I got there, and never woke up during the night.

That being said, yesterday I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody for the second time. Iím a sucker for anything 70s, and I grew up listening to the band as a kid. I really didnít know the background of the group, I only knew a few songs from them. So I didnít really care that there were some fudging of the facts in terms of when events happened. That always seems to happen in biopics, and Iím okay with that. Itís not a friggin documentary, after all.

I try to pay attention to how a film was made, and there are some interesting cinematography choices: lots of close-ups, and a one-shot I thought particularly interesting. Casting was spot-on, as the actors chosen to portray the band members looked exactly like the group, particularly Gwilym Lee as Brian May, and Rami Malek, who plays Freddie Mercury.

I knew about the mixed reviews from the critics. One arguing point was that there wasnít enough exploration of Mercuryís sexuality. For me, it wasnít so much that, as I donít particularly look at a personís sexual preference in terms of how well they can do their job. Call me crazy, but unless you are hiring someone to have sex with, their sexual preference really doesnít have much to do with how well they can make sandwiches, fly a plane or make art. Perhaps others use their sex preferences to do their jobs, but I donít find in necessary. So as an answer to the critics, did they miss the part in the film where Mercury confesses to his girlfriend, Mary Austin, that heís bisexual? Did they miss the parts where Queen is on tour and Mercury catches the eyes of various men? Did they miss the part where Mercury says to Austin that he wants her in his life? Did they miss the part where Austin says to Mercury heís going to have a very difficult life? Thatís quite the understatement. Maybe the critics were looking for more guy-on-guy action, but from my point of view, Mercuryís sexuality in a time where peopleís attitudes were a little more narrow than they are now was portrayed well. The scenes between Mercury and Austin made this professional cynic cry. And as weird as it might seem for most people to grasp, Mercury and Austin WERE in each otherís lives, even as he searched for the kind of love he was biologically wired to have. Even after his death, Austin got the bulk of Mercuryís wealth and possessions, and perhaps one of the ultimate tests of faith and trust: sheís the only person who knows where Mercuryís ashes are buried. An intensely private person, Mercury asked Austin not to reveal his final resting place. You donít ask that favor from a casual acquaintance.

The love story between Mercury and Austin is only one part of the film, but an important one. Thereís scenes from the beginning, the rise to fame, the making of the epic song, struggle to get Bohemian Rhapsody played on the radio (studio honcho Ray Foster, played by Mike Myers, just doesnít get it and wanted another song to be released) the musicality of the group, the treachery of the management, Mercuryís larger than life persona and the wild parties that consumed him, the apology to the band, and getting back together to perform on Live Aid are all here. Queen fans will love it. Sure, itís not perfect, but for those who understand that rock and roll can be grand on an operatic scale, and include elements from the genre, perhaps attracting new fans, Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of four individuals who understood experimentation, were highly intelligent and creative, and created the kind of music THEY wanted to create, studio heads be damned. Thereís a line in the movie: ďFortune favors the bold.Ē If anything, it shows that being smart and different is nothing to be ashamed of. If you work it right, you can become legends. And live forever.

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