I know I am late to the party, having only seen this tonight.
The critics slammed the movie and I usually agree with them so I had my reservations.
But then all of a sudden, everyone is going Queen mental, including kids and I get a real sense of the movie causing a ruckus. Then Mark Kermode says on his podcast that the film made him cry thrice and I usher myself to the cinema whilst my inner dialogue goes ‘Ryan you idiot, go see this movie about one of your favourite bands, your childhood heroes’.
The production process certainly wasn’t without drama. Sacha Baren Cohan dropped out of the film due to creative disagreements, then Dexter Fletcher had to take over directing after Bryan Singer ended up behaving the exact way a director shouldn’t behave and this all had the spellings of a disaster.
And I get why the critics have a problem. The problematic moralistic subtext concerning Freddie’s orientation. The character portrayals themselves weren’t that particularly nuanced. And as someone who has avidly read Brian May’s biography and watched all the documentaries, the film took serious liberties with the timeline. Song releases, The American tour and then the biggest being Freddie revealing he has AIDS before the performance at Live Aid (he wasn’t even ill at this time). All for the narrative purpose to enhance the drama.
Then there is the constant stream of wink wink, referential parts from John Deacon jamming ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ to Mike Myers and that ‘Wayne’s World’ part and I could go on about the same problems already mentioned but the actual matter of fact is…
While I was to some extent hoping to see the full biography come to play, right up to Freddie’s passing and the wonderful musical material that would be released later in Queen’s career, the film set out to do something different.
This was to capture the magic of what Queen was and still is.
The film for the most part focuses on Freddie, who is wondrously recreated by Rami Malek, who’s performance is sensational. The interesting thing is the audacity of who Freddie was because, he was his own artist and he did things his way.
This kind of story is so engaging because Freddie is an outsider. Queen worked relentlessly hard and the world came to them.
Who are the artists out there now, playing by their own rules? Who are artists who can say no? Who are the artists who are artists first and not brands? Where are the risk takers?
I can name you some but they are nowhere near the mainstream.
We live in a different world today where Music is no longer important than politics and if Freddie was alive today, he would have plenty to say about it. I can’t help but think the film highlights a thing we all need that is well and truly and lacking in the Music business today.
The power of being an outsider and doing things your way.
Queen did it and they had the definitive front man in Freddie leading them, with a whole load of charisma enough to hold the arena filled audience at Wembley in the palm of his hand.
By the live aid sequence, my eyes started watering, because I started remembering what it was like to hearing this band for the first time, how in awe I was of their live performances when I watched the videos at my grandparents’ house and how Queen are truly something special.
And when you are truly special, you are something that stands the test of time.
This film has made Queen the biggest band in the world.
And in a world that is currently so divided, that tells you to stick to the rule book. Queen stand as a beacon for letting your freak flag fly.
‘But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise, I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I a’int gonna loose’.