Mama, Life Had Just Begun
Not A Bad Song To Get Stuck In Your Head
Most people get annoyed when a song gets stuck on repeat in their heads every single second of every single day. It's enough to make you take up the sounds of silence. I've been trained, however, to notice whatever goes through the mind as some kind of message from the Universe, so I listen a little more closely than others do.
I was bored one night (aren't we all?) and scrolled through YouTube for something I hadn't seen before. I stumbled across Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury and Queen story. My son (who hates musicals) had raved about it. I had seen Rocket Man or Elton John's story, so I was prepared to be impressed. What I got was my socks blown off.
I had only seen Rami Malek before in the movie Larry Crowne, so I was open to whatever his acting style turned out to be. In interviews I saw after I saw the movie, he said they had lip synced the whole thing, so all I had to go on was his acting style. When I heard his interviews, he talked about Mercury's dark side and his willingness to take leaps of faith about so many things. So I watched the movie again with these things in mind.
Socks still blown off. The actor must have watched videos until he could have moved like Mercury in his sleep. It wasn't about imitation, though. It was about bringing to life what made the man tick. It was about showing the audience the more vulnerable side of the man. Why was his music so joyful yet oddly emotional? The actors tried to show us this.
The music in the movie just touched on so many beloved Queen tunes like Another One Bites The Dust, We Are The Champions, Somebody To Love, and a bunch more. Of course, Bohemian Rhapsody is Queen's signature piece, so the film represented that more than the other songs. And a winner it is, too.
The film told the story of Mercury's sexuality, but it merely glanced in that direction, and rightly so. There is so much more to any of us than simply our sexual orientation. The vulnerability and confusion of his bisexuality added character to his music. I'm pretty sure Queen wouldn't have been the rock icon it is today without that vulnerability and confusion.
Each actor brings to a role his own interpretation of the subject's character and virtues. He tries to incorporate the subject's personality into his acting. With Mercury, there was so much more such as his origins in Lithuania, his family life, and his inner drive to be the best. It was Mercury who drove the other members of Queen to give their tip top best to the music, because the music is everything. Every singer will tell you that.
Malek turned in an exquisite performance, bringing his own understanding of Mercury to his role. Had he not gotten the vulnerability and drive, the movie would have been only a simple re-telling of the story. Adding the footage of the 1985 Live Aid show was a master stroke. You can see Malek's hard work in every recreated move Mercury made. Malek brought his own joie de vive to the part which I think added substantially to the story.
Now Bohemian Rhapsody is echoing through my mind. That's okay, because how many rock groups can sit down and write an Italian operetta? The Who's Tommy doesn't even compare, although it was good. Hey, this is Queen. And they're still going strong 30 years after Mercury's untimely death. I'll take that. Any way the wind blows. . . . .