Reflections, Thoughts and Opinions From Africa.
|On Sunday we met up with a group of friends to watch "Bohemian Rhapsody". The film has received mixed reviews from critics, but thankfully moviegoers have ignored the criticism, resulting in the film becoming the highest grossing musical biopic ever made - I believe it has taken over $600,000 at the box office.
I grew up with the music of Queen. While I'm more familiar with songs like "Radio GaGa", "Another One Bites the Dust", "Under Pressure" and their other songs from 1980 to now I do know "Bohemian Rhapsody". I don't remember when I first heard it but it's one of those songs that will never grow old, despite its length and rather interesting lyrics... a bit like Don Maclean's "American Pie", I suppose. Both are classic songs. And I am sure most, if not all of us, know the lyrics by heart.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The band members looked and sounded so like the actual group members it was almost as though we were watching a documentary. For me one of the most positive elements of the film is that Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May were involved in production of the film, meaning it was going to be pretty close to the band's real story. Fourth member John Deacon, who took Freddie Mercury's death very hard, stays out of the limelight, but was supportive of the film.
Which brings me to the critics' reaction to the film.
Much has been made of how the film doesn't focus on much of Freddie's personal lifestyle, which was said to be wild and hedonistic. As one of the first world famous celebrities to die of AIDS he is as famous for only confirming his illness hours before his death as he is for his flamboyant stage performances. It seems many critics would have liked more attention to be paid to what Freddie got up to behind closed doors with less focus on the musical legacy he left our world.
There are a number of historical inaccuracies in the film, such as the circumstances under which the band formed and claiming that Freddie learned of his HIV status before the 1981 Live Aid concert. The band never broke up and reformed and Freddie's lover Paul sold secrets of the singer's lifestyle to a newspaper and not on television. I find the condemnation of these anomalies a world where we're often told about "artistic licence" and "playing fast and hard with the truth" being acceptable somewhat hypocritical. Are we now so conditioned to reality television and "stars" such as Kim Kardashian someone's private life is of more interest than the fact that he wrote some of the world's most famous and recognisable songs? That he is rated as one of the top live performers of all time?
I went to see a film about a legendary musician and his band. I wanted to see the relationship the band members had with each other. I was not disappointed. All four members of Queen were (and are) loyal to one another. They called themselves "family", and they were. And the relationship they had with each other is why Queen was such a successful band.
I left the cinema, feeling sad that I've neglected Queen's music for so many years. The scene where Freddie tells his bandmates he is HIV positive and their reaction is heartbreaking, especially as they rehearse for Live Aid - one feels this is the last time they ever performed in public. While the film has Freddie struggling with his voice because of his illness I have read that he was battling a throat infection before the concert so I guess the slight "liberalisation" of the truth is forgiveable. Queen's 25 minute performance in front of a crowd of 72,000 people, telecast to a worldwide audience of 1,9 billion was the highlight of the entire concert, and is regarded by many as the best live performance of all time.
Just 24 hours before he died Freddie Mercury issued a statement confirming he was suffering from AIDS. The last two sentences tell me how "Bohemian Rhapsody" and his friends and family have remained true to him and his memory. That's true friendship, in my humble opinion.
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