There are few rock bands quite as iconic and prolific as Queen. Freddie Mercury’s vocals are unmatched to this day, and the band’s music is still constantly played on the radio, in addition to movies, TV shows, and commercials.
Now it’s time that this comes to the silver screen as 20th Century Fox has been working on Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen’s Biographical Film.
The trailer for the highly anticipated Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, met a mixed reaction when released earlier this week.
There were those who called it “thrilling” and “spectacular.” Others said that the trailer proves that the film will “straight-wash”, Freddie Mercury, by ignoring his bisexuality and the fact that he died of AIDS complications.
Quartzy reports Mercury, who had romantic relationships with both men and women, kept his sexuality largely out of the public eye. It adds that he only confirmed his AIDS diagnoses only hours before his death in 1991. “Nonetheless, his death at age 45 greatly raised awareness of the disease, and in the years since Mercury has become a global idol—as a musician of course, but also for his queerness and unabashed expression of self. That’s why some are worried that Bohemian Rhapsody will marginalize, or even ignore, those crucial aspects of Mercury’s life.”
The official synopsis describes the film as follows:
Bohemian Rhapsody is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound, their near-implosion as Mercury’s lifestyle spirals out of control, and their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid, where Mercury, facing a life-threatening illness, leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.”
The film has had a long, tumultuous path to the screen. Originally slated to star Borat comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (a dead ringer for Mercury), Bohemian Rhapsody has since changed directors, scripts, and lead actors (twice). Cohen left the project in 2013 due to creative differences with the surviving members of the band. Cohen later said that the band wanted a more “family friendly” approach that depicted Queen trying to persevere after Mercury’s death in 1991. Cohen preferred an “adult-oriented” style, he said, that focused more on what he called Mercury’s “extreme lifestyle of debauchery.”
Eventually the project moved forward with Mr. Robot star Rami Malek as Mercury and filmmaker Bryan Singer, who is openly bisexual, directing. Singer, however, was removed from his duties in 2017 for allegedly showing up late to set and clashing with the actors. He was replaced by Dexter Fletcher, who finished filming early this year.
Bohemian Rhapsody will finally be released this Autumn, and only then will we know whether the outrage was warranted.