“Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic of the legendary singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury and the renowned music band Queen, hit Chinese theaters on Friday.
It has received wide acclaim among Chinese audiences. It got a 9.6 rating on Maoyan, a film ticketing and review website in China. Even on Douban, a similar platform but with more prudent reviews, the score is still a high 8.7.
The movie has provoked hot discussion online about its historical accuracy.
Many praised the stirring sound effects and on-the-scene feeling the film portrays in presenting the classic Queen performance at the Live Aid show in 1985. The scene is praised as a perfect representation of the real concert and gives out an in-stadium feeling when the audience is in the cinema.
Some say they burst into tears after watching it.
Compared with the reviews, its performance at the box office seems lukewarm. So far, it has earned a total of 46.8 million yuan (7 million U.S. dollars) in China, ranking fourth at the daily domestic box office list since release. On Monday, it climbed up a notch to third.
A critically acclaimed hit
The film follows the life of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, telling how he joined the band, rose to fame, the controversy of his love affairs as related to bisexuality, and the twist and turns of his relations with his bandmates.
It covers the period of Queen until Live Aid when the band gave what is considered as the best live performance in history.
Directed by Bryan Singer, who was later replaced by Dexter Fletcher, starring Rami Malek as Mercury, Lucy Boynton as his girlfriend Mary, Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy, the film has received wide acclaim among film critics.
It won four awards at the 91st Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. It has also won Best Motion Picture – Drama, and Best Actor awards at the Golden Globes this year.
Malek also pocketed another two Best Actor awards at Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA.
The main character, Freddie Mercury, is portrayed in such a vivid, touching way. He is the super-confident, assertive music talent who always pursues something new instead of “repeating” a routine. But he is also a lonely, pavid boy who lacks a sense of belonging.
In the film, after all the lavish partying, drinking and sex, he got infected with AIDS. However, death seems to be the last thing he fears.
“I don’t have time to be their victim, their AIDS poster boy, their cautionary tale. No, I decide who I am. I’m going to be what I was born to be, a performer, to give the people what they want,” goes one quote in the film.
However, there are also quite a number of negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it got a mediocre 61 percent of positive reviews by approved Tomatometer critics.
A Guardian review believes the film builds up the character with hindsight, as Mercury seems to foresee everything. It also criticizes the film for attributing Mercury’s extravagant partying lifestyle to his gayness, while the influence of people around him is not emphasized enough.
“Bohemian Rhapsody honors Mercury the showman but never really gets to Mercury the person,” it says.
A critic from Roger Ebert film review website also commented on the costume ball scene, saying the way it presents Mercury, which led the audience to side with the band members and see Mercury’s gayness uncomfortably, is “unforgivable.”
A legendary band and the ties with China
Originally named as “Smile,” the band was formed by guitarist Brian May, lead singer and bass guitarist Tim Staffell, and drummer Roger Taylor. After Staffell quit in 1970, Mercury joined the band. One year later, John Deacon joined as bass guitarist, and the line-up of four lasted unchanged for the next 20 years until 1991, when Mercury died of AIDS-related causes.
Queen has achieved great success globally, especially in the UK, its home country. It has been on the Official Albums Chart, a ranking for album sales in the UK, for 1,322 weeks (about 25 years), even longer than the Beatles at 1,293 weeks.
Its Greatest Hits album released in 1981, which compiles the most popular songs since they first appeared on the chart, is the biggest-selling album of all time in the UK, selling more than 6 million copies.
In later years, Queen explored a “Queen +” model to carry on its performance worldwide. The remaining members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, continue to play as Queen, while a singer serves in a flexible role in cooperation with the band on stage.
From 2004, it started to cooperate with Paul Rodgers, as “Queen + Paul Rodgers.” In 2011, it performed together with Adam Lambert.
In 2016, it finally toured to China, with Lambert as the lead singer in the “Queen+” model.
Source: CGTN/Photo via Douban.com