Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody

I wasn't particularly aware of Freddie Mercury and Queen at the height of their popularity. It was a period of time during which I was listening mostly to Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Dixieland Jazz, and the early Sinatra. This was because I was writing a novel set during World War II and the period just afterward and I was seeking to sort of immerse myself in that atmosphere. The novel ultimately enjoyed the grand distinction of almost being published, whereas Freddy and Queen became undying legends of rock music. Honestly, as far as I can recall, the first time I heard Queen was when I watched the comic rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in the movie Wayne's World.  

I was interested, therefore, in learning something about the man and the phenomenon in the recent film called Bohemian Rhapsody, winner of the Golden Globe Award for best picture of the year. 

Unfortunately, the film has very little to tell us about what made the man tick. It has very little of substance or illumination to offer about his deeper struggles, his inner person, his road to his own fate. It is really not much more than a long rock concert interrupted by obligatory scenes depicting rockers being rockers in the usual rocker way. Compare this with The Doors, the 1991 Oliver Stone film about that group, and the difference is clear. The Doors was an engaging, thoughtful examination of the man, Jim Morrison, the times, the culture, the forces that drove people and events. We felt, through Stone's direction of the story, that we had been, in some measure, on the inside. Bohemian Rhapsody leaves us faceless and basically clueless amid the anonymous sea of Queen fans. It does not move the viewer from mere observer to a more sympathetic participant. It provides no doors of entry to the rhapsody.

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