So, I just came back from watching the film, and... it was... okay.Spoiler warning!
Now, I'm a longtime Queen fan (*points at own username*), and I found the casting and performances pretty good (in particular, Joseph Mazzello's similarity to the real John Deacon is just eery, and Gwilym Lee's Brian May voice is spot on), but the plot was a bit... odd.
The one thing that really bothered me was how much they messed up the timeline for the sake of drama. Events occur vastly out of order, while events that actually happened years apart are conflated into one singular event just so the plot they want to tell works, and worst of all, a lot of songs in the film occur (as in, are written/recorded/released) at much different points than in the real world.
Just a couple of things I noticed:
- Prior to Queen, "Freddie Bulsara" had been the singer of short-lived bands named Wreckage and Ibex, which is completely glossed over by the film.
- Also, Freddie went to Ealing Art College, where he earned a diploma in Art and Graphic Design.
- In reality, Freddie had not only been a fan of Brian and Roger's original band Smile for a while, but had also befriended their original singer Tim Staffell. Freddie and the three Smile members supposedly even shared an apartment for a while! Supposedly, it was Freddie himself who convinced the unhappy Staffell to quit so he could join the band. (Staffell later went on to become the singer of short-lived band Morgan, named after one of the members, Mott the Hoople keyboarder Morgan Fisher, and later worked as a model maker and designer, among other things.)
- Freddie didn't meet Mary Austin the same night he joined the band. In reality, Freddie met Mary at the clothing store she was working at, when he was already the band's singer, and allegedly it took him six months to finally ask her out. In fact, she was originally dating Brian May
, until Freddie asked Brian if his relationship with Mary was "serious", and if he could ask her out.
- The fateful malfunction of Freddie's microphone stand that resulted in him picking up a microphone stand without a base as his trademark stage prop sure didn't happen during his first performance with the band.
- John Deacon didn't sign on as Queen's bassist until 1971, by which time the band had already performed with Freddie for a bit. In fact, he was only the band's fourth
- Freddie's name change happened much earlier. "Freddie" was originally a nickname he had gained in college (presumably because nobody could pronounce "Farrokh"), while "Mercury" was, according to Brian May himself, inspired by a line from a song on their first album "(My Fairy King" from "Queen", which featured the line "Mother Mercury, look what they've done to me").
- Queen's audience back in their early days weren't the "misfits that don't belong". They were a glam rock/hard rock band that attracted the same type of audience that would also listen to any other similar band from the same era.
- Queen's first US tour occurred much earlier than presented in the film, in 1974, promoting their second album ("Queen II"), although they were only the supporting act for Mott The Hoople. The song "Now I'm Here", which is on their third album ("Sheer Heart Attack"), the same album that features "Killer Queen", references the experience of that tour ("down in the city, just Hoople and me").
- The song "Fat Bottomed Girls" was featured on Queens fifth album, "A Day At the Races", which didn't come out until two years after their first US tour.
- EMI executive Ray Foster (played by Mike Myers) is completely made up. He's supposedly a composite of several EMI executives, which include Roy Featherstone (who was much more supportive of the band than his fictionalized movie replacement) and Paul Watts (who was genuinely critical of "Bohemian Rhapsody").
- Could somebody please explain to me why the film keeps making fun of "I'm In Love With My Car"? It's a perfectly decent song (a tribute to one of the band's roadies) and was often sung by Roger himself on their concerts. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with "You're My Best Friend", and it was
released as the second single from the "A Night At The Opera" album.
- Speaking of "A Night At The Opera", it was simply named after the Marx Brothers film, just like the following album, "A Day At the Races".
- "We Will Rock You" was included on the "News of the World" album that came out in 1977. In the film, Brian doesn't come up with the idea until after the date "1980" is explicitly shown on-screen. Freddie was performing the song with the band long before he long before he cut his hair and grew a mustache.
- Speaking of that mustache: The man of Freddie's dreams was actor Burt Reynolds, but because he was (as far as I know) completely straight, Freddie never stood a chance with him. Freddie grew his mustache to resemble his idol more, and his various lovers also shared the same look. (In the film, Brian at one point calls Paul Prenter a "clone" of Freddie's.)
- Queen (or, to be more precise, Freddie's flamboyant image) started alienating a prude American audience long before the release of their controversial video to "I Want To Break Free" in 1984. Supposedly, the crowd at 1980 shows already threw razors on the stage in an apparent attempt to get him to shave off that 'stache, and John Deacon admitted in an interview as early as 1981 that they were alienating many of the fans in the US because of Freddie's playing with his not-really-ambiguous appearance.
- Speaking of "We Will Rock You", the film features it as a show opener, but in reality, Queen would typically play a lesser-known fast
version as a show-opener for a few years (until it was replaced by other songs on subsequent tours), while the better-known "slow" version has to my knowledge always been used at the end
of their performances for the remainder of their stage career, always immediately followed by "We Are the Champions" (except for the 1986 "Magic" tour, when they featured "Friends Will Be Friends" in between the two songs).
- "Another One Bites The Dust" came out long before the band's "disco" era that resulted in the album "Hot Space" (1982). In reality, it was already featured on the album "The Game" (1980).
- That party scene features a little person as a servant who is supposedly serving drugs to attendants. This was the subject of a long-running myth among Queen fans, something Roger Taylor has vehemently denied for years. How would he have known? See, the biggest party animal in the band besides Freddie? Yup, that was Roger.
- Freddie didn't fire their manager John Reid in the early 1980s. He and the band parted ways as early as 1977, supposedly on friendly terms.
- Freddie also didn't fire his personal assistant and hanger-on Paul Prenter prior to Live Aid. Despite conflicts that began as early as the 1982 "Hot Space" album, he continued in his position until 1986, long after Live Aid. Allegedly, Freddie finally got rid of him (both professionally and privately) after Prenter had thrown a party at Freddie's residence, which ended with the place trashed. After a falling-out, Prenter threatened to reveal salacious details from Freddie's private life to the public, resulting in him giving an interview to UK tabloid The Sun. In the film, Prenter instead gives a TV interview to the same effect.
- Freddie pursuing a solo career is presented as a controversial move that almost broke up the band for good, but in reality, it was Roger
who first released a solo single ("I Wanna Testify") as early as 1977
, then a solo album ("Fun in Space") in 1981, followed by a Brian May
solo album ("Star Fleet Project") in 1983, and then a second Roger Taylor solo album ("Strange Frontier") in 1984, all of them before Freddie would release his
first solo album.
- As far as I know, Freddie contracted
HIV during his days in the Munich gay scene. The film places his infection much earlier, and he is already showing symptoms of AIDS during the promotion of the "Hot Space" album. In real life, he supposedly didn't get diagnosed until long after Live Aid, and thus, he also didn't tell the band about his condition prior to the concert, but that's minor compared to the next problem...
- That huge break-up that supposedly lasted multiple years? Yeah, that didn't happen. Several members have gone on record stating that each of them quit the band at different points, on multiple occasions, but they always came back - and it never lasted even remotely as long as it was shown on screen. It was more like "That's it, I quit. - Sorry, guys, will you still let me back in?" In reality, Queen recorded an entire album ("The Works") in 1984, and while Freddie's first solo album, "Mr. Bad Guy", was
largely recorded during a time when Queen were on a recording
hiatus, they still went on an extended tour in 1984, which ended only two months before Live Aid. So much for "we haven't been performing together for years". Hell, during the real
Live Aid concert, you can see people in the audience with then very recent "Queen Works" scarves.
- Collective songwriting credits for simply "Queen" didn't happen until the album "The Miracle" (1989). The aforementioned "A Kind of Magic" album, which came out after Live Aid, still featured individual songwriting credits, with the exception of "One Vision", but that is a result of the complicated history of the song's creation.
- As part of the "Works" tour, Queen played several concerts in South Africa, which was highly controversial at the time because the country had been widely isolated by the rest of the world due to the oppressive Apartheid regime. This is completely glossed over in the film.
- That dramatic pause before Freddie starts playing the first piano notes of "Bohemian Rhapsody" during Live Aid also never happened. They went on stage and Freddie immediately began to play.
- During the entire movie, a lot of songs are cut for time. Lines, complete verses and, in the case of the Live Aid performance, even two entire songs ("Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and a truncated "We Will Rock You") are omitted. (Also, Freddie and Brian returned to the stage later that day to perform an acoustic ballad, "Is This The World We Created?")
- Yeah, phones didn't ring during Live Aid until Queen went on stage. Suuuuuuuure. Somewhere, Bob Geldof is getting real dizzy from shaking his head.
- Live Aid was by far not the last major performance by Queen. Rather, the concert was seen by many as a return to form for the band. Subsequently, they recorded several songs that would be featured in a certain film named "Highlander" (including "Who Wants To Live Forever", which is featured before
Live Aid in the film), reworked some of those songs (there was never an official "Highlander" soundtrack) and released them as an album ("A Kind of Magic"), and then went on another tour to promote the album, which saw the band return to Wembley Stadium, the stage they had owned during Live Aid, for two consecutive nights, the second of which was released as a full concert album after Freddie's death. The final concert of the "Magic" tour, Knebworth Park, was the last live performance of Queen ever. It was only after 1986 that Freddie's illness really started to affect his ability to perform.
- Freddie's "four aging Queens" line during the talk at EMI's office prior to Live Aid was lifted verbatim from a speech he gave during the second 1986 Wembley performance. The topic he was discussing? Rumors about Queen supposedly being about to break up, which he vehemently denied.
- Jim Hutton, Freddie's final lover, worked as a hairdresser, not as a waiter/manservant. The two met at a night club.
- John Deacon never sang. Although you can see him move his lips in concert footage, his microphone was always turned off.
Those are just the discrepancies that stood out to me.
I really did like the camera direction during the Live Aid performance, though.
Edited by Nevermore, 05 November 2018 - 06:10 AM.