The movie has taken a staggering $845million. It has scooped up a gleaming hoard of awards. Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury has been hailed as one of the greatest on-screen tours-de-force in recent cinema history. Yet many critics have blasted the film and accuse it of failing to face the harder truths of Freddie’s life, to not do him the service he deserves.
Queen legend Brian May, someone who was actually there alongside Freddie through much of his life, has already hit back at the critics: “All that stuff is in there. But you don’t need to be revelling in scenes of debauchery.
“Not that Freddie was particularly debauched anyway. I know some people were looking for that. But no, it’s a film which portrays the truth, in a fairly gritty and honest but also entertaining way.”
The film, in fact, shows Freddie exploring his sexuality, the ‘debauched” period in Berlin and his heartbreaking AIDS diagnosis.
Malek had even punchier and perfect response: “Why would you want to alter anyone’s perception of their hero?”
Although May and fellow bandmember Roger Taylor have said the film was meant to celebrate the man and the music, they have also paid tribute to Malek’s performance and stressed the sides of Freddie the movie shows that are not the common idea of the larger-than-life icon.
May said: “I love the way Rami has captured not only Freddie’s great powers and ebullience but also the sensitive side, the vulnerability of Freddie, of which there was a lot. He came from very small beginnings.”
Taylor added: “I think what a lot of people think about Freddie, and the media go, ‘Oh he was flamboyant, whatever,’ and they remember him for other things and they forget he was a brilliant musician. I think the film does pay attention to the fact that Freddie was a great, great musician.”
Last word goes to Malek, of course.
“They would love to deliver the entire Freddie Mercury story, but we have two hours. And in those two hours, I know that those men want to celebrate Freddie’s life, and there was definitely a cognizant effort not to make this a hedonistic, salacious film.
“Ultimately I think you have to shine a light on certain aspects of his life, to show how defiant he was as an artist and what stereotypes he destroyed. He, and the band, they brought down every convention of what music should be and how human beings should act in public. He’s a revolutionary in that he just refused to be segregated or marginalized in any way.”
ORIGINAL STORY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES