Starring Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, this short trailer wisely focuses on the musical legacy of Queen rather than a straight biopic. Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the band’s 1970s ascent up through their 1985 Live Aid set, which was voted the greatest live performance in rock history in a 2005 music industry poll. Mercury died of complications from AIDS in 1991, leaving a legacy as one of the greatest rock singers and most dynamic frontmen of all time.
The 97-second teaser lets the music do the talking, as Malek dons some of Mercury’s famously flamboyant costumes and struts across several stages to a mash-up of Queen’s biggest hits, including “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Killer Queen” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It also showcases several of the monumental events in the band’s history.
We decided to focus on two of the most pivotal in the band’s legacy below, but first, check out the trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody:
The Making Of “A Night At The Opera”
Considered Queen’s defining album, the trailer uses the making of “A Night At The Opera” to really play up the incredible collaboration between Brian May and Freddie Mercury. “This is when the operatic section comes,” says a wide-eyed Mercury during a recording session for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Later, when the band is told that the song is too long (“It goes on forever; six bloody minutes”), Mercury quips, “I pity your wife if you think six minutes is forever.” For diehard Queen fans, this confirms two things: Malek has the look down, and he was still working on Mercury’s iconic voice as of last September, and that they will “use Freddie as much as possible and use me as much as possible,” explained Malek. The band’s incredible catalog of hits will take priority in the film, and any insight into one of the 20th century’s greatest albums is worth a viewing alone.
As much as Malek will be at the forefront of awards talk, as well as the genuine selling point of the film, Gwilym Lee as Brian May shouldn’t be thrown under the bus. Not only does he embody the famed guitarist, but Lee sounds like May too. It’s too early to tell if its just an impression or if, after the film’s rewrites and reworking, the film actually focuses a lot more on the other members of Queen. Either way, Lee’s May looks and sounds the part and any Queen fan will know just how much of an impact May has had on the legacy of the band.
Often cited as the greatest live show of all time by a large selection of musicians and critics, Queen’s Live Aid show was a monumental moment in history and happens to be where the film will culminate. The performance from 1985 was a 21 minute set that included songs “Bohemian Rhapsody” (ballad section and guitar solo), “Radio Ga Ga”, a crowd singalong, “Hammer to Fall”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “We Will Rock You” (1st verse), and “We Are the Champions”, with Mercury and May returning later on to perform a version of “Is This the World We Created?” It’s incredible to think that it was a performance that almost never happened. Queen wasn’t too thrilled to perform when first approached by overseer and musician Bob Geldof.
The trailer looks to be recreating that staggering afternoon in 1985 with a computer-aided crowd of thousands and thousands of people. One stand-out shot from the trailer is Malek’s Mercury cuffing his hand to his ear in the foreground, playing the crowd like a god. He had them in his palm and he was gonna rock ’em. Years later, Brian May marveled at Mercury’s performance at Live Aid: “That was entirely down to Freddie,” he said. “The rest of us played okay, but Freddie was out there and took it to another level.”
The fact that we are getting this film at all it’s a small miracle unto itself. In the works since 2010, and originally starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Mercury, the lead actor clashed with Queen lead guitarist Brian May and exited the project which laid in development hell for years. Malek came aboard after his breakout success on Mr. Robot back in 2015, as was put on the fast track under the direction of Bryan Singer.
But Singer found himself in the hot seat with allegations linking him to a culture of pedophilia in Hollywood and rape. Production was halted back in November 2017. Reports were that Singer failed to return to set after the Thanksgiving holiday and that he was clashing with Malek and co-star Tom Hollander. The X-Men director was ultimately fired from the film, and the offices of his Bad Hat Harry production company were subsequently shut down over on the 20th Century Fox lot. We could go into just why Singer was displaying erratic behavior but would fail at summarizing a rather disturbing history of a filmmaker who looks like he is rightfully on his way out.
Director Dexter Fletcher (who is also directing the Elton John-inspired biopic with Kingsman star Taron Egerton) was brought on to wrap the project and both he and Singer are credited as co-directors on the film’s IMDb page, but there is no mention of the directors on the film’s trailer or publicity materials thus far.
You can also check out the poster for the film:
Bohemian Rhapsody, which also stars Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee (as Brian May), Ben Hardy (as Roger Taylor), Joseph Mazzello (as John Deacon), Aiden Gillen, and Mike Meyers, arrives in theaters on November 2.
Images: 20th Century Fox