"Is this real life? Is this just a fantasy?" Ask the initial letter of the song that gives Bohemian Rhapsody His name, and the movie has a bit of both. With the only remaining members of Queen acting as executive producers in Freddie Mercury's biopic (bassist John Deacon retired after Mercury's death in 1991), the filmmakers have access to the entire library of Queen songs and memories. from the band. But with cooperation there is always the danger of softening the edges, and the film, based on a script by Anthony McCarten, also does a bit of that. Next, we break down the truth and the artistic license.
The young Freddie aka Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek)
As in the movie, Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara and remains the only known rock star of Parsi descent. As one character explains, Parsis traces his ancestry to members of the Zoroastrian religion who fled from Persia to India to escape persecution more than a millennium ago. However, Mercury really was born in what was then the British protectorate of Zanzibar in present-day Tanzania. He lived there and in India before he, his parents and his younger sister moved to England when he was a teenager. The film alludes to all this only briefly and begins with Mercury in England.
Freddie the cat man
Before showing young Freddie, the film begins with Mercury at his home in 1985, preparing for the Queen's performance on Live Aid. At least six cats are shown running around Freddie's luxurious home in London, and at one point he mentions that everyone has his own bedroom. He is also shown that he asks to be put on the phone when he calls home from the road.
All this is true. "He came to a hotel, we called and he really talked to his cats," wrote Peter Freestone, Mercury's personal assistant for the singer's last 12 years. Mercury's close friend, Mary Austin, "would hold Tom and Jerry in turn to the receiver to hear Freddie talking," which he continued over the years with the successive felines occupying their homes. And in his memories Mercury and meJim Hutton, the last romantic partner of Mercury, recalled that "Freddie treated cats as his own children." Mercury even dedicated a song, "Delilah", to his favorite feline.
Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), partner of Mercury
After the flash to Live Aid, the film shows Freddie beginning to explore the London music scene as an 18-year-old androgynous and fresh-faced in Marc Bolan mode, given to long scarves and bright jackets. During this period, meet the friendly girl at the store, Mary Austin, and the two soon become lovers. They live together for six years until Freddie realizes that, at least, he is bisexual and confesses to Mary that he has had relationships with men along the way. She moves but only to the other side of the road, and the two remain close, although less after Austin marries. But until the end, she remains his anchor, the person to whom he reveals his true self and whom he turned to for help in difficult situations.
All this may seem unexpected, but it is true. (Well, mainly: although Austin was actually a sales assistant at the Biba boutique, she actually met Mercury at the market stall she ran with Roger Taylor at the nearby Kensington market). Mercury lived with Austin for six years and in a documentary he said: The only friend I have is Mary and I do not want anyone else. For me, she was my common law wife. For me, it was a marriage. "Photographer Mick Rock also recalled that Mercury" dabbled "in relationships with women (" I know one or two names! "He said.) Austin moved into an apartment near the house. of Mercury, one paid for by the Mercury company.However, although the film suggests that Austin moved out of Mercury's orbit, except as a dear friend and confidant after he became involved with the father of his children, he actually acted as the company's secretary for her music and publishing businesses, a job she created for Ella, and took care of her in her last illness, the extent to which Mercury valued Austin is shown by the fact that he left her half of her He was entrusted with the task of burying his ashes, promising that he would never reveal his whereabouts, until today he has kept the secret.
The film leaves aside another of Freddie's heterosexual relationships, one with which he began in Munich with Barbara Valentin, a soft-porn actress who appeared in some of Rainer Fassbinder's films. According to biographer Lesley-Ann Jones, Mercury was in bed with Valentin and another man when the German police broke into a tax raid.
The formation of the queen
In the movie version, the young Mercury is working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport as he spends his nights reviewing the London music scene. He is especially attracted to a band called Smile, and in an alley in one of his concerts, he listens to Tim Staffell, the lead singer of Smile, tells fellow band members Roger Taylor and Brian May that he is resigning. Mercury suggests itself as a replacement. May and Taylor are understandably doubtful about this inexperienced stranger, but then Mercury treats them in an impromptu performance, and they agree to give him a trial.
There is a lot of compression in this version of the band's origins. Actually, Mercury knew Staffell from Ealing Art College, where they were both students, and in fact Staffell, a singer and bass player, introduced Mercury to his bandmates in 1968. Mercury, who had gone through other groups as a keyboardist, I always wanted to be the lead singer of the band, sometimes shouting: "If I were your singer, I would show you how it was done", from the audience and already offering unsolicited advice on image and performance, telling them, according to May, " You're not dressing well, you're not addressing the audience properly. There is always an opportunity to connect. " In fact, by the time Staffell left, May, Taylor and Mercury (who was still Bulsara) were sharing an apartment, so when the vacancy arose, Mercury was the natural person to fill it.
The movie's explanation of Mercury's excess is also accurate: He actually had four additional teeth in the back of his upper jaw, and as this scene suggests, he believed that they gave his voice an additional boost.
When it comes to the movie, the villain in Mercury's story is Paul Prenter (who died in 1991, so he does not have to sue any more), who started as a deputy to the then manager of the band, John Reid (Aidan Gillen ), before assuming the address. Mercury himself. The film shows Prenter betraying Reid by encouraging him to cast Mercury on an individual contract with CBS Records (one that Prenter himself will then sign Mercury) and then leave it dry when the tone prompts Mercury to fire Reid for his disloyalty. The other members of the band. After Mercury discusses with the band and moves to Munich, Prenter turns the house of Mercury into the center of the party and isolates the singer even more by not passing phone messages from old friends like Austin and May. Growing weaker and sicker, Mercury finally leaves Prenter after a visitor from Austin persuades him to return to England.
Prenter was Mercury's manager between 1980 and 1985, and it's true that he was not always popular with the other members of the band. When the band's 1982 album Hot space it did not have the same critical or commercial success as the previous efforts (although it has the wonderful "Under Pressure", written in collaboration with David Bowie), May and Taylor blamed the failure of Prenter's malign musical influence.
But Prenter was not to blame for all the band's struggles. The band as a whole had participated in the Munich nightlife when they recorded The game There in 1979 and 1980 they were already fighting. "We went through a bad period in Munich," May told Mojo. Magazine in 1999. "We fight bitterly with each other, I remember John saying he did not play the kind of guitar he wanted in his songs. [to] leave the band more than once, "he said, even though Mercury appears in the film as the only one left by the band to dedicate to solo projects.
However, several band members have claimed that Prenter was generally considered a selfish parasite, a sealed reputation when he gave an interview to the British tabloid The Sun that revealed Mercury and revealed that Jim Hutton was Mercury's lover when Hutton did not He had told his parents yet.
Ray Foster (Mike Myers)
It is true that the label of the band, EMI, blushed at the idea of launching "Bohemian Rhapsody" of almost six minutes as singles and they only gave their blessing to the selection after the gay DJ Kenny Everett, a friend of Mercury , started Go rogue and play the suite on the radio. However, the character of Ray Foster seems to have been invented for the film. Maybe all this was an excuse to have Myers, the eventual star of The world of Wayne, murmur a line about how no teenager would ever rock with such a song in their cars.
The film shows Mercury getting sick more and more in Munich. Upon returning to London in 1985, he receives his diagnosis and tells the news to his colleagues shortly before the concert. They, along with Austin and Hutton, watch him give the performance of his life knowing that there is a death sentence on him.
This is perhaps the biggest deviation of the film from the facts. It is widely discussed when, precisely, Mercury contracted the disease, the biographer Jones states that it could have been from 1982, but he lived for six more years after the presentation of Live Aid and did not tell his bandmates about his diagnosis until 1989. Taylor remembered Mercury saying, "You probably realize what my problem is, well, that's all and I do not want to make a difference, I do not want it to be known, I do not want to talk about it, I just want to go ahead and work until I fall ", and this is what he did. Despite rumors fueled by the increasingly haggard appearance of Mercury, his colleagues and friends continued to deny that he was ill, until Mercury issued a statement acknowledging that he had the disease the day before his death.
In the film version of the events, Mercury, deceived into a single deal by the deceptive Prenter, leaves the band to do his own thing, creating something of acrimony. When Bob Geldof offers the Live Aid post in the spring of 1985, Mercury wants to do it, but that will mean reconciling with his bandmates. He calls a meeting and, after some drag and mea culpa, take him back with only a very short window to prepare for the transmission.
In fact, it was not Queen's intergroup relations, but her relationship with Geldof that led to complications and the last minute of her invitation. Geldof had left the band out of his fundraising charity record in late 1984, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Because the band was in bad smell among the progressives because of the first interpretation of Argentina in 1981, when the country's military dictatorship was killing and "disappearing." "Leftists and ordinary citizens, and then complicated by playing at the Sun City headquarters in South Africa in October 1984, despite the fact that the United Nations asked the artists to boycott the apartheid regime and that the Union of British Musicians banned its members played Sun City.Meanwhile, there was not a prolonged break before the performance, since they had returned from a world tour less than two months before, although their ensemble (which is fairly faithfully recreated) is widely regarded as one of the highlights of the Live Aid and Queen career.
Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker)
In the film, Mercury meets Hutton for the first time when the latter is a waiter who cleans the house after one of the singer's wild parties. The relationship does not develop until 1985, just before Live Aid, when Mercury tracks Hutton, after making his way into the phone book.
In fact, Mercury first approached Hutton, who at that time was a barber at the luxurious Savoy Hotel in London, in a gay club, but Hutton already had a partner and rejected it, although other accounts make them come together. righ now. In any case, the relationship evolved throughout 1985, with Hutton moving to Mercury's house (initially working as a gardener and maintaining his own apartment for two years). He stayed with the singer until the end.