Bohemian Rhapsody has triumphed at the global box office and is starting to pick up major award season buzz, with early nominations at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild already announced. As the movie powers past half a billion dollars worldwide, criticisms persist that it is not accurate, that it avoids any uncomfortable truths about Freddie’s life and death, and that it hammers home how much his bandmates “resented” him. What is true? The band themselves have spoken out.
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In an early critique, Mike Ryan from Uproxx said: “My biggest takeaway from BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is how much the rest of Queen resents Freddie Mercury…
“Also this is the first biopic I ever remember watching in which literally every scene I’m thinking, ‘there’s no way that’s how that actually went down.’ The whole third act is not even close to accurate. That’s all I’ll say.”
Brian May has already acknowledged that some of the timelines were altered, notably the sequences around Freddie revealing his HIV diagnosis and the Live Aid concert.
He told Classic Rock: “Queen fans will understand when they see it that certain things have been moved around for the story to make sense. You can’t collapse forty years of a person’s life into two and a half hours without cutting out a lot of stuff.”
But what about accusations that the film was being used as a way for the band to air their grievances with Freddie’s behaviour.
May has referred to the “gut-wrenching” scene where Freddie tells the band he is leaving to pursue a solo career, but many critics point out that all the members had been starting to investigate solo projects at that time.
What is clear from interviews given by May and Taylor (Roger Deacon has had little official involvement with the band since his retirement in January 1997), is how much they hope the film shows every side of Freddie and reflects all his talents and depths.
Asked if Freddie would agree with how he is portrayed, May said: “I think he would have felt it was a fair cop, really. It shows all his greatness and all his fallibility and insecurity – the whole bit. I think it shows him very truthfully and not sycophantically, but in a way that appreciates his talent. Because he was sure was unique. I’ve never met anybody like Freddie in my life, before or since, and it’s probably not going to happen again.”
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY IS OUT NOW