Last night in Hollywood there was a crowd of people dressed as Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen. These look-alikes entered a contest in the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, as Halloween festivities swelled along the sidewalk on Hollywood Blvd. Prizes awarded to the contestants included TCL Big Screen TVs, Bohemian Rhapsody-themed Record Players, and collectible purples koozies.
“BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY” opens tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 2, yet I was invited on Halloween to a sneak peek screening to learn about how this band “rocked” the world.
The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX is an ideal movie theatre for watching this biographical film about the British rock band Queen. The massive screen and state of the art sound systems lends to a rock concert atmosphere. This movie focuses on Mercury’s life, leading up to Queen’s final performance together at Wembley Stadium during Live Aid in 1985.
For those who remember this fundraising concert for Africa, Freddie Mercury strutted onto the stage and sent the crowd into frenzies of communal singing. The band was very instrumental in lighting up the phone banks with callers donating money for the worthy cause.
Queen’s music has become anthems at sporting events as the soaring chorus of “We Are the Champions,” is played when a team wins. We all feel the urge to stomp our feet at the heart-stirring beats of the iconic “We Will Rock You.”
It’s been over 25 years since Mercury’s death to AIDS, yet Queen’s music lives on. Years later after he died, Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor appeared as guests on the eighth season of American Idol. When they met contestant Adam Lambert while he performed with the eventual winner Kris Allen “We Are the Champions,” it led to a collaboration with Lambert and Queen. Lambert’s vocal range and mannerisms are similar to Mercury.
Appearances and tours led to a cross-generational, multicultural and global phenomenon. My daughter and I saw Queen with Adam Lambert perform at the Hollywood Bowl two summers ago. It was a phenomenal show. With their success, the band with Lambert created “The Crown Jewels” show and was invited to the Park Theater at the MGM in Las Vegas to perform 10 nights last September.
Now, Emmy®-winner Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) twirls around in furs and skintight Harlequin catsuits taking on the role of the creative king of pop rock in Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a foot stomping celebration of Queen’s music and lead singer Freddie Mercury’s extraordinary life. The audience doesn’t learn much about the other band members, who with Mercury’s pizzazz rose to meteoric heights as mega-watt rock stars.
Here’s 5 fun facts you will learn while watching Bohemian Rhapsody:
- Mercury was born of Parsi descent in Zanzibar. Her grew up there and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England when he was 18.
- Freddy Mercury loved his cats.
- The song Bohemian Rhapsody was six minutes long, that’s three minutes longer than the standard formula song. It was recorded in a barn on a bucolic farm with the sounds surrounding them, providing inspiration to the mesmerizing operatics. They wanted the song to be an epic poem, with the wit of Shakespeare.
- The band encouraged their audience at concerts to sing aloud, stomp and sway to their music. You will find yourself doing this too throughout the movie.
- Mercury died from Bronchopneumonia complications from AIDS at the age of 45.
Starring alongside Malek is Lucy Boynton (Murder on the Orient Express) as beautiful, patient and concerned Mary Austin. Gwilym Lee (Jamestown) as guitarist Brian May is excellent, as is Ben Hardy (The Women in White) as drummer Roger Taylor.
Other stars in the movie includeJoe Mazzello (Jurassic Park) as bass guitarist John “Deacy” Deacon; Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) as Queen’s first manager John Reid; Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) as the group’s lawyer-turned-manager Jim “Miami” Beach; Allen Leech (Downton Abbey) as Paul Prenter, who started off as Reid’s assistant and became Freddie Mercury’s personal manager; Aaron McCusker (Shameless) as Freddie’s longtime boyfriend Jim Hutton; and Mike Myers (Austin Powers) as EMI Records’ Ray Foster.
Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour, The Theory of Everything) wrote the screenplay, from a story by McCarten and Peter Morgan (The Crown, The Queen). The film is produced by Graham King (The Departed, The Aviator) and Jim Beach (The Krays, The Hotel New Hampshire) and directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns). Arnon Milchan (The Revenant, Gone Girl), Denis O’Sullivan (Tomb Raider, World War Z), Justin Haythe (Red Sparrow, Snitch), Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle, Wild Bill) and Jane Rosenthal (The Wizard of Lies, About a Boy) are executive producers.