When I first saw Bohemian Rhapsody, I had a brilliant time with it. On the surface, it seemed like a perfectly fun romp through the discography and life of Queen, and as a result, the soundtrack was great fun. I came away from the cinema quite satisfied, but before long, the darker and more unpleasant sides of the film began to reveal itself. Upon reflection, Bohemian Rhapsody could be considered an insult to the legacy of Freddie Mercury, and since the Oscars, should be regarded as one of the least deserving award winners for years.
My first sense of awareness was gifted to me by a friend while I was singing the film’s praises- I was turned on to the sexual assault allegations made by half-director Bryan Singer. This should be public knowledge, but instead, I had to be enlightened to this fact, which is a massive issue in itself. Despite this, and also his sacking from production early on enough, he still received $40 million. You heard that right, forty million dollars slid into the back pocket of a long-accused pedophile. It’s disappointing to see him be made so well off by any project, but consider this; JJ Abrams, in directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with the weight of the most aggressive and intense fanbases in the world on his shoulders, was awarded a mere $5 million for his phenomenal efforts. Of course this is still a huge sum of money, but Abrams’ foray into a galaxy far, far away was worth 2.066 BILLION dollars, completely toppling BoRhap, and Singer still comes away richer, even without having actually finished making the film.
Another great criticism that comes with Bohemian Rhapsody is that Freddie Mercury is a victim of his queer attributes being stripped from the film. Freddie’s admission of his own bisexuality is met by his partner of the time looking at him with such pity, and telling him “no, Freddie. You’re gay”. In this single moment, he is stripped of his own persona so the audience could understand a figure they already knew about a little easier. This act of bi-erasure is exactly the kind of fault the film falls to consistently- by reducing Freddie’s first sexual experience with a man to a case of sexual assault, which is entirely false. It seemingly avoids all male sexual contact from seeing the screen following this- showing the disappointing sub-conscious homophobia and biphobia the film falls to. The public has been fascinated by Freddie’s sexuality in all of the 30 years since his heartbreaking death, and while Bohemian Rhapsody advertises itself to be the essential story of the greatest frontman who ever lived, but one of the biggest elements of his life has been shrugged off by addressing it as the behaviour of a “diva” with any real depth pushed far to the background.
These inconsistencies in truth are rife throughout the film, primarily including Freddie’s admission of his tragic AIDS diagnosis to the band prior to their massive Live Aid performance. In the film, this is used as the catalyst for a moment of unity amongst the members of Queen following a brief rift in their professional lives, rather than using the real situation- Freddie discovering his illness two years after Live Aid. This is an example of truths being expelled from the film in order to tell an easier and less stressful story for its audiences, completely tearing down the film’s idea that it serves as the perfect telling of Mr Fahrenheit’s story.
A big problem in the filmmaking of the film is the involvement of the remaining members of Queen in the process. Initially, Bohemian Rhapsody was set to be a biopic about Freddie alone helmed by Sacha Baron Cohen, until Queen stepped in. They insisted that the film should be about Queen rather than simply the man who brought them to household name status across the world, under threat they wouldn’t turn over the rights for their music or likeness. Baron Cohen stepped down from the project following this, but production continued and Rami Malek was brought on board. While Malek’s performance is the only reason Bohemian Rhapsody should be put anywhere close to any large-scale awards (and we’ll come to that in a moment), Queen’s selfish commandeering of a film written for their beloved friend forced it to be something it wasn’t meant to be.
That montage of people trying to fix Rami’s bow tie and then him getting onstage with it still crooked is actually a solid metaphor for Bohemian Rhapsody
— Hannah Woodhead (@goodjobliz) February 25, 2019
Twitter had a lot to say about Bohemian Rhapsody‘s huge winnings at the 91st Academy Awards, but nobody comes close to Hannah Woodhead, who says “That montage of people trying to fix Rami [Malek]’s bow tie and them him getting onstage with it still crooked is actually a solid metaphor for Bohemian Rhapsody“. So many film fans were absolutely devastated that BoRhap won out so well, especially in the editing department. The editing throughout the film is so painfully choppy, thanks mostly to Queen’s interference with the original product. Many scenes are dominated by shots cutting between all four members of the band, even when they don’t speak or have any other involvement in the scene rather than just being there. It’s safe to assume that the Academy only saw the Live Aid scene and left it there.
Bohemian Rhapsody, if you can switch off your brain to the deceit and poor film-making, is an enjoyable film. Coming out of the cinema I was very happy with the product myself. But knowing the real story behind the production of the film stands as a huge problem for the film industry. We have awarded sexual assault, homophobia, and selfishness with the highest honour a film can receive in the form of seemingly endless awards (aside from the millions and millions of dollars the film has made). The toxicity that Bohemian Rhapsody breathes into the film industry and Freddie Mercury’s legacy is a sign of worse things to come. We can only pray that Elton John receives better treatment in upcoming biopic Rocketman, and if he doesn’t, consider the music biopic genre destroyed.