Bohemian Rhapsody true story: How accurate is the new Bohemian Rhapsody film? | Films | Entertainment |
Despite its description, the Bohemian Rhapsody movie is less an in-depth biopic and more a feel-good flick. Though the studio wrote “the film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound”, the movie focusses more on the music than the member’s real-life struggles. Given the 12A rating, this is hardly a surprise. The level of accuracy should have been bolstered by the production team, which included Queen’s original band members Brian May and Roger Taylor as consultants.
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In the movie and in real life, Mercury only arrived in the UK as a late teen.
He attending a British style boarding school near Mumbai until he was 16.
Then he returned to Zanzibar to be with his family before the revolution broke out which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Indians and Arabs.
The whole family relocated to the UK, and Mercury attended Isleworth Polytechnic, which is now West Thames College.
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Bohemia Rhapsody: The true story of Freddie Mercury’s life was adapted for film, but how true is it? (Image: Fox)
Mercury’s first performance was for a paying crowd was on August 23, 1969.
He was the vocalist for the band Ibex, who had been looking for a singer.
Before Mercury was a part of Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor (and their band Smile) travelled to Liverpool to see Ibex.
Smile even joined Ibex on stage.
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In the film, Freddie Mercury stumbles into a 1970 performance by Brian May and Roger Taylor’s band Smile.
Mercury meets up with May and Taylor after the show, coincidentally right after their bassist and singer Tim Staffell quit.
They were shown as being sceptical of Mercury, but are eventually won over when he delivers an impromptu performance of their song “Doing Alright”.
As previously mentioned, Mercury, May, and Taylor were already acquainted.
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Bohemian Rhapsody: The movie showed Freddie Mercury join the band in a very different way to reality (Image: Fox)
Mercury met Tim Staffell first, at Ealing Art College in London.
Eventually, when Staffell left the band, Mercury joined on to replace him.
The movie also shows Mercury meeting his future girlfriend Mary Austin just before his first run-in with Brian May and Roger Taylor.
In real life, Brian May had briefly dated Mary Austin and Freddie didn’t become interested in her until after he was already the lead singer of Queen.
Bohemian Rhapsody: The lineup was not the same as portrayed in the film (Image: Fox)
In the movie, Queen’s lineup ceased to change once Mercury signed on.
However, John Deacon didn’t actually join on to play bass until 1971.
Deacon wasn’t the band’s original bassist like in the movie, nor did he play the first Queen concert in 1970.
Deacon was actually the fourth bassist the band tried, with Mercury having an eye for perfection.
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Bohemian Rhapsody: Mike Myers plays a fictional manager Ray Foster (Image: Fox)
The character portrayed by Mike Myers, an EMI record executive named Ray Foster, is entirely fictitious.
According to Rolling Stone, he may be loosely based on EMI chief Roy Featherstone.
However, Featherstone was a big fan of Queen (unlike Foster in the movie).
The only similarity between Featherstone and Foster is the complaint that Bohemian Rhapsody was too long to be released as a single.
Freddie Mercury did indeed have four extra teeth.
The movie displays the song Bohemian Rhapsody as a big risk for the band, and it was.
Given its near six-minute length, the single ran the risk of being rejected by radio stations.
However, a flashy music video helped propel the song into stratospheric fame, and Queen along with it.
Bohemian Rhapsody: The true story is that Mary Austin and Freddie Mercury did stay friends (Image: Fox)
As in the movie, Mercury remained good friends with Mary Austin after they broke up.
During a 1985 interview, Freddie said: “All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible.
“The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage.
“We believe in each other, that’s enough for me.”
Bohemian Rhapsody: The movie depicts Freddie telling the band of his diagnosis, which he didn’t (Image: Fox)
Bohemian Rhapsody showed Jim Hutton and Mercury meeting when Hutton was hired as a server at a party at a nightclub.
In the film Hutton rejects him but they talk until late into the night.
In reality, Hutton was working as a hairdresser at London’s Savoy Hotel at the time.
His relationship with Mercury began in 1985 and they remained together until Mercury’s death in November 1991.
Bohemian Rhapsody: The band did not split up the way the movie depicts (Image: Fox)
In perhaps the biggest departure from the truth, Queen never, in fact, split up the way the movie depicts.
In the movie, Freddie signs a $4 million solo deal behind the band’s back, and they are livid.
He subsequently says he wants to take a break from the band and they all go their separate ways.
In reality, the whole band was burned out by 1983, having been on tour for a decade.
Bohemian Rhapsody: Live Aid was as big of a show as it seemed in the movie (Image: Fox)
They all agreed on taking a break but they stayed in touch, starting work on their album The Works later that year.
Though in real life the 1985 Live Aid show wasn’t a reunion, it was as big as it was made out to be in the movie.
In both the movie and reality, Mercury’s personal manager Paul Prenter (played by Allen Leech) was fired by Mercury for selling the singer’s personal information to UK newspapers.
He detailed their own affair and Mercury’s lifestyle as a gay man, giving the press the first whiff of illness by saying Mercury’s former partners were dying of AIDS.
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Bohemian Rhapsody: The movie stars Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee as Freddie Mercury and Brian May (Image: Getty)
Prenter himself died of AIDS-related complications in August 1991, just three months before Mercury passed away from the disease.
In the movie, Mercury told his bandmates about his diagnosis at the Live Aid show.
This is another huge departure from reality.
The prevailing theory is Mercury was diagnosed in 1987.
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Bohemian Rhapsody: Despite not being as in-depth as some people may want, Rami was a star (Image: Fox)
Mercury’s final filmed interview was in 1987 in which he mentioned nothing about being ill.
Mercury didn’t publicly confirm his diagnosis until November 23, 1991, with an official statement the day before his death.
The statement read: Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV-positive and have AIDS.
I felt it correct to keep this information private to date in order to protect the privacy of those around me.
However, the time has now come for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease.
Bohemian Rhapsody is out in cinemas now.