With a record box office of 50 million dollars upon its release, Bohemian Rhapsody got divided opinions. However, one thing the critics and fans don't forgive are some inaccuracies when it comes to story of Queen and Freddie Mercury.
The wait is over and Queen’s biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, was finally released worldwide. The expectation was high, and reception was divided. There were tons of fans who loved the movie since they saw it as a beautiful homage to the iconic band and to a character admired and respected through history. For some of them, the fact that the movie doesn’t focus on the controversies around Freddie Mercury, the band’s frontman, was just a great way to remember him without being morbid and focusing on his illness and death. However, for others, the fact that the movie left out some of the band's dark moments seems as if they were trying to play it safe to make the story lighter for international audiences (and, not to mention that many believed it was quite a retrogressive way of dealing with the subject of AIDS).
I’m on the fence. I really liked the film, and I thought Rami Malek’s interpretation was flawless. Still, I do agree that it’s as if Queen had met Disney, meaning that the movie is a light portrayal of Mercury’s life, since it intentionally left many plot holes. No matter where you stand, we can’t defend the indefensible, and that is that the film took many liberties in terms of historical accuracy to add more drama to a story that was pretty dramatic by itself. So, here are the main inaccuracies in Bohemian Rhapsody (warning, spoilers ahead!!).
Queen members didn’t meet that way
The movie begins on the day of the emblematic Live Aid concert only to take us back to the beginning of the story, just a couple decades. In the film, we see Freddie Mercury attending a show of a newbie band called Smile. After the gig, a shy Mercury introduces himself to Brian May and Roger Taylor and pretty much convinces them to let him join the band. The truth is, Freddie met them in college and shared a flat with May before he joined the band.
Mary was Brian May’s ex-girlfriend
In that same sequence where Freddie meets the band, we see that he meets a beautiful blonde who happens to be Mary Austin, former partner of Mercury. Yet again, their meeting didn't happen like that. Mary used to date Brian May and Freddie met her when the band was already consolidated. Actually, rumor has it, Mercury asked for May's permission to ask her out. So in fact, this is another movie error since they didn't meet as randomly as it's portrayed on the film.
Jim Hutton wasn’t a waiter
In an enigmatic moment of the movie, we see a reckless Freddie Mercury throwing one of his crazy parties. When everybody's gone, a young waiter remains on scene cleaning up the mess. Then, Mercury makes a move on him but the waiter rejects him because he tells him he'll only be there for him once he learns how to love himself. By the end of the film, we see Freddie finally finding Hutton once he’s at peace with himself. Though a lovely story, it wasn't quite accurate. Hutton wasn’t a waiter but a hairdresser and they met at a nightclub. What it’s true is that Hutton was the only formal relationship Mercury had after Mary, and that he was the only one who stood by him till the very end.
Freddie Mercury wasn’t the first to release a solo album
According to the film, Freddie’s reckless life started to create friction with the other members of the band. It all breaks apart when he’s offered a four-million contract to go solo which angers the rest of the band. That wasn't the way things really happen: Queen never really broke up, and actually, drummer Roger Taylor had already released two albums (one in 1981 and another in 1984) before Mercury's Mr. Bad Guy (1985) which was released three months before their iconic Live Aid performance.
Queen had been touring right before Live Aid
The film depicts that, as a result of Mercury’s solo ambitions, the band falls apart. He later on enters a depressive vortex until he realizes he misses the band and asks them to forgive him. And so they get back together. Still, they found themselves discussing whether to perform or not at Live Aid since Taylor claims they haven’t played together in such a long time and that would be suicide. Movie mistake, again. The truth is they had been touring for a year promoting their latest album, The Works. The tour ended in May 1985, and Live Aid was in July of the same year, so they were as fresh as a lettuce.
Mercury didn’t learn about his disease until after Live Aid
One of the biggest inaccuracies that has fans really angry is how the movie deals with Mercury’s disease. In the film, Mercury finds out right before getting back together with the band, during his depressive phase, that he has AIDS. The diagnosis is a turning point in his life. He decides to make some changes and get rid off his reckless lifestyle to settle and go back to the ones that love him. In other words, this is Freddie's realization moment and the character, from now on, gives a whole different meaning to the songs he performed at Live Aid. And yes, this event also doesn't respond to the actual chronology of Mercury's life. He was diagnosed until April 1987, two years after the show.
The million-pound goal for Live Aid wasn’t achieved thanks to Queen
The most iconic scene in the movie is, without a doubt, Queen’s performance at Live Aid (considered one of the best performances ever in rock history). To make it even more emotional and touching, they show how they reached the amount of money that was the goal when Queen was playing as if their performance had encouraged everybody to donate.
Fact: the goal was reached way after Queen’s performance. It’s said it was David Bowie who helped the cause because he took the mic and reminded people what the show was all about and encouraged them to donate.
I believe that the movie never attempts to make us doctors on Queen or to be a meticulous encyclopedia on the history of the band, but it’s also true that some of these scenes, result of creative freedom, can make the story weak and unreliable. Some of them are harmless, others are to make the story biased. Anyways, I think the overall film is a very well done story of the classic character that while seeking greatness and gets lost in the process.
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