‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ fails to dive deep in Freddy Mercury’s life

Ty Davis

A life as prolific as Freddy Mercury’s will always require more time than a conventional film could give it. Despite this, “Bohemian Rhapsody” chooses numerous ways to incorrectly summarize Mercury’s grandiose life, from overlooking crucial details to blatant inaccuracies.

The film is a summary of rock band Queen’s greatest hits, with the majority of the second act going from the story of one great hit and iconic concerts with brief looks into Mecury’s life, but doing this directly contradicts thematic focus of the film. The film centers around themes of social isolation and loneliness using Mercury’s relationships, homosexuality and Queen’s music to espouse on the topic, instead of dedicating the time to examining the moments that would compliment these themes.

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Despite focusing on themes that deal directly with relationships with people, the film skips over the development and deterioration of Mercury’s relationships with his bandmates and ex-fiancé Mary Austin. The film makes several large skips in time to cover big moments and the creation of some of Queen’s largest singles, but these moments are not necessarily the most important moments in the life of Mercury, nor necessarily the most relevant to the themes.

The film also spends time exploring how music can connect people, including a very powerful scene in which Mercury discusses how fans in Rio de Janeiro started singing the lyrics to the song “Love of My Life,” and how he felt understood and connected to all of them. Sadly, the film does not go further into this topic. 

“Bohemian Rhapsody” also fails to relate these themes to the sense of social isolation from being a gay man in the 1980s. The film never truly goes in-depth into exploring Mercury’s struggle with his identity, or how coming out changed his relationships with his friends. The film also tries to brush over any gay interaction it can, trying to erase his sexuality.

There are blatant falsehoods about how Mercury established his relationship with his bandmates, his relationship with Jim Hutton, the inspiration of  the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” and when both Mercury and the band discovered he had AIDS.

There is one powerful scene that serves as one of the highlights of the film. The recreation of the Live Aid concert genuinely had me choked up and there’s a palpable sense of connection with your fellow person. There’s an immense sense of humanity and emotion, as the direction goes from intense performance to quiet moments of surreal weight. It’s hard to describe this scene without saying it feels like the culmination of a legend.

Should you watch it? Yes, for the sake of paying homage to Mercury. 

Sadly, the few powerful moments of the film don’t make up for its flaws. Mercury changed music, united people, gave people who felt like an outcast a place to belong and was an LGBTQ icon. His legacy deserves to be respected enough to not make falsities and gloss over such important aspects of his life.

Ty Davis can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @tydavisACW.