5 Facts That “Bohemian Rhapsody” Got Wrong
I’m back after a few weeks off from Halloween movies, and was finally able to catch the music biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the theater with my wife this past Friday.
Let me just say off the bat that I love music, nearly any type. In addition, I’m a sucker for the music biopic - I loved Ray, Walk the Line, Straight Outta Compton, The Doors, Amadeus, ‘Round Midnight, I could go on and on. I’d also like to say that I’m a bit of a music snob. I spend way too much time learning about songs, records/albums, and the artists that create them. So when I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, my wife really enjoyed it knowing very little of Queen’s history, but my personal viewing experience was a little different (I’ll give you my overall opinion at the end).
Here are 5 major historical inaccuracies I found while watching the film.
1 - “Fat Bottom Girls” timeline
Based on when the film first introduces this famous song, the film makes it seem like it came out after the breakthrough album Sheer Heart Attack and before their masterpiece album A Night at the Opera. In reality though, Fat Bottom Girls came out 4 years later (1978), well after Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) and even after We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions (1977).
2 - Mike Myers character
Mike Myers makes a cameo appearance as EMI executive Ray Foster, a fictional character that was influenced by EMI head Roy Featherstone. While EMI did have some concerns about releasing the song as a single, this entire scene was made up for dramatic effect. Queen never left EMI in protest. No rock was thrown at any windows.
3 - “We Will Rock You” timeline
The film did a pretty good job in showing how guitarist Brian May came up with the idea to create a song that would get the audience more involved. The issue is that the song was released about 3 years earlier from when it is introduced in the film. The movie shows how it is clearly the early 1980’s when the idea for the song came about, but in fact the song was released on the News of the World album, with the single coming out in October of 1977. The film was also pretty accurate in that Mercury did not have a lot to do with the song - the album itself was trying to strip itself down from the heavily produced tracks of A Night at the Opera to a more raw sound, mimicking the new punk scene that just exploded in the US and UK. As for the song “We Are the Champions”, it immediately follows “We Will Rock You” on the album as the radio even today usually plays it. Oddly enough, “We Are the Champions” was the A side of the single release, and “We Will Rock You” was the B side.
4 - Did Queen Break Up?
No. Not at all. They had some poor album sales from 1982’s Hot Space, much of which was recorded in Munich as a whole band. In the film, it made it seem like Mercury went to Munich by himself to get away from everybody. Also, Taylor and May released their own solo projects the same year Mercury did his in 1983. In 1984, Queen made another album, The Works, and even toured the album, including the famous Rio de Janeiro concert Mercury mentions to Mary in the film over 6 years too early. This tour ended in May of 1985 - Live Aid was in July…unless Freddie Mercury did some crazy shit in June of 1985, he would have been in great shape for the show.
5 - When Freddie Mercury knew he had AIDS
While the film does a decent job of showing Freddie’s lifestyle with a PG-13 rating, things are over dramatic when it comes to Mercury discovering that he has HIV/AIDS. As the film discusses, Mercury did try and be private about his personal life. What is particularly strange is that Brian May and Roger Taylor are executive producers of this film, and there is no way they were told right before Live Aid by Freddie that he had AIDS. It is much more believed that Freddie found out in 1987, and he never told the public he officially had it until the day before he died. This scene overall of the morning of Live Aid is a Hollywood drama produced sham. Are we really to believe that Freddie Mercury fixed relations with his father, hooked up for good with his male love interest, and performed one of the greatest 20 minutes of rock history all in one day? Over the top like Freddie indeed.
So what to make of it?
To be honest, I am merely hitting the top of the iceberg of the long laundry list of historical inaccuracies with this movie. It’s really upsetting that Hollywood felt like they needed to distort the timeline of what really happened so badly. If it didn’t seem like a good enough story, then they never should have made the film. However it was made. It was an enjoyable watch, the music is obviously great, and Rami Malek did a masterful job as Freddie Mercury. I just wish they didn’t ruin the real history of what happened to Queen. What’s even more preposterous is that the surviving members of the band and their old manager all had final say in what goes in the film.
Does this bring further commentary on the search for fact vs truth? In this era of “fake news” do people care? As of this writing, Bohemian Rhapsody has grossed $385 million globally so far. Money talks I suppose.
Final Grade: C-
If you want my recommendation on what Queen album to listen to, “Sheer Heart Attack” is an awesome record. If you haven’t listened to it, find it below!
Have a great Thanksgiving!