Freddie Mercury Biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Delivers an Uncanny Depiction of Queen
Later this month, right after two back-to-back film festivals, the much-awaited Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody will hit theaters in the Philippines. Every self-respecting Queen fan should be looking forward to it, regardless of whether or not their hopes for it are high, if only because it will tell the story of the legendary rock band and of course, play their songs.
But based on what the production has shown of Rami Malek's uncanny transformation into Freddie Mercury, one gets the sense that at the very least, Bohemian Rhapsody will have invested a lot in authenticity. The trailers show that Malek has pretty much nailed the late legend's look, movements, and cadences:
Of course, Freddie's life story would be incomplete without Queen's performance at Wembley Stadium, for Live Aid. In July 1985, the band stepped up to play the benefit gig of the decade (the proceeds of which went to the alleviation of the Ethiopian famine), and ended up playing what is widely considered to be their greatest live show ever. A 2005 survey by the BBC named it the greatest live performance in the history of rock and roll.
Peter Freestone, Freddie Mercury's personal assistant, close friend, and biographer, remembers it vividly. "As soon as we arrived, we felt the excitement," he recalls, "there was a good atmosphere. It was really friendly, and there was no competition, which quite often can happen when you have this sort of lineup. Queen took to the stage, and the audience went wild right from the start of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. And the atmosphere backstage changed; it became electric. Something had happened. Eighteen minutes later, the band came off stage and they’d nailed it. The audience was going wild, and backstage people were applauding."
Freestone was among the consultants on board for Bohemian Rhapsody, which he and Queen lead guitarist Brian May both say recreated Live Aid perfectly.
"It was amazing," says May. "The moment I walked onto that stage, it was surreal because it perfectly replicated what the stage was like in 1985—every last detail down to the amps behind me, pedals and even the cloth and back stage with the cigarette butts and the ashtrays and the coke bottles."
Freestone was likewise impressed. "It was a déjà vu moment," he says. "The first time I saw the set I just couldn't believe it. It’s exactly the same size. Everything was right, from the stage to backstage even to the peeling paint off the walls and the rust coming down from water pipes. It got the goosebumps going."
Catch Bohemian Rhapsody when it hits Philippine cinemas on October 31.