On 24 October, the UK celebrates one of its greatest rock legends – Queen, with the release of 20th Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
Bohemian Rhapsody, or Bo Rap, is one of the most famous songs of the 188 the band released during their career, and is the title of this film that follows the beginnings of the band in the 1970s, up until their iconic performance of Live Aid in 1985, six years before Freddie died of complications from AIDS.
The film is generating a lot of excitement among Queen fans, and the trailers are teasing them into near frenzy. The first teaser trailer was released on 14 May, while the official full-length trailer was released on 15 May, showing us Freddie and his band members as they recorded the song Bo Rap, and giving heavier hints of the epic film to come.
On 4 September, the day before what would have been Freddie’s 72 birthday, we heard Freddie, played by American Rami Malek (Mr Robot) repeatedly asking Roger Taylor (EastEnder’s Ben Hardy) to sing Galileo “even higher“, something most of us have tried.
With a little more than three weeks to go, we’re celebrating all things Queen with some little known facts about the film, the band, and the legend that is Freddie Mercury.
Bohemian Rhapsody was famously featured in cult film Wayne’s World (Canadian actor Mike Myers is almost unrecognisable as EMI executive Ray Foster), when Wayne (Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) and their friends head-bang to the song as they’re driving. The scene wasn’t popular among the actors, with Myers complaining it gave him a headache and calling for Advil (pain killers). Despite the casts’ lack of enthusiasm, the scene has gone down in cinematic history. Good call!
Sacha Baron Cohen was originally tipped to play Mercury, but left the project in July 2013 citing “creative differences” – Cohen believed no one would be interested in seeing a film when the main character dies half way through. Producer Brian May (yes, THE Brian May) said it was because Cohen was too recognisable to play Freddie, but other stories of the split include May referring to Cohen as “an arse“.
Bohemian Rhapsody is six minutes long. Released in October 1975, it sold more than a million copies in three months. It topped the UK Singles Chart for nine consecutive weeks, and in 1991, after re-release after Freddie’s death, for a further five weeks. It topped the charts in Ireland, Canada, Oz and New Zealand, and The Netherlands, and became the UK’s third best-selling single of all time, selling more than 6 million copies worldwide. It is the only song to be the UK Christmas number one twice, by the same artist.
The film has several people credited as producers, including Queen guitarist Brian May, band-mate Roger Taylor and actor Robert De Niro. Actor Dexter Fletcher (Bugsy Malone, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) was announced as the new director on 6 December 2013, after former director Brian Singer was fired from the set. Whether Singer or Fletcher receives director credit from the Directors Guild of America hasn’t been confirmed, but Fletcher has been quoted as saying
“I don’t know, and at the end of the day, I don’t know that that’s really important… I was just proud to be able to be a part of it and help complete what I think is a great film. That’s what I got involved for.”
The soundtrack for the film, which will be released on 19 October as CD, cassette, double-LP and digital album and includes tracks from Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance, which are released for the first time ever as well as new versions of classic songs and other studio recordings. The track list includes fan favourites We Will Rock You, Another One Bites the Dust, I Want to Break Free and Who Wants to Live Forever.
In November 1991, Mercury released a statement to “confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS“. A little more than 24 hours later, Freddie died at his home in Kensington, aged 45. Freddie’s legacy, and that of Queen, continues. In 1999, the Royal Mail issued a Millennium Stamp with an image of Mercury on stage. Feltham High Street has a commemorative star for the star and in 2011, Google dedicated its Google Doodle to him in celebration of his 65th birthday.
Like so many of Queen’s songs, the lyrics are a message direct to the fans. We Are the Champions includes the lines “You’ve brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, and I thank you all.”
Thank you Queen, for giving us one of the greatest British music legacies of all time, and what promises to be a brilliant biopic.
Bohemian Rhapsody is released on 24 October, with its UK Premier on 23 October. The film is scheduled for release in the US on 2 November.