The movie has taken almost a billion dollars at the box office. It rampaged through awards season and brought home four Oscars. Yet the film’s editor and composer, John Ottman, just laid bare what it was like behind the scenes: “Many places I could tell you the wars that happened. Every scene there was a war, of course there was.” But over what? Ottman says one day he’d like to give a “f***ing dissertation” on the most criticised moment in the movie.
Ottman was the focus of a backlash when a viral video famously blasted the jarring first scene where the band meets future manager John Reid at a pub by the River Thames.
He said it is: “What happens when too many cooks get in the kitchen and are paranoid about pace… Studios are petrified of getting through the first act. But every test screening the audience was wanting more.
“So we shot the scene of him (Freddie) sitting at the bus stop. There needs to be a classic bump in the road, so we shot the scene of the band breaking down. So we shot new things and now there was paranoia the first act was getting too long. So the idea was let’s just blow through meeting John Reid and make it like a montage… So I kept hacking it down, faster, faster, faster… It made it too fast. At the eleventh hour, I went back and fattened up the van scene and the bus stop so it could breathe more.”
But in the scramble to finish the film after director Bryan Singer was replaced, Ottman wasn’t able to go back and refine the John Reid scene.
He explained: “It upsets me. I should have gone back into that scene and put my foot down like I did throughout that film.
“Many places I could tell you the wars that happened. Every scene there was a war, of course there was, where I was defending it and keeping the integrity of a scene and not keeping it artificially sped up. And that was the one I missed.”
SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH THE SCENE NEXT
Ottman also hits back at the criticisms, especially the implication he didn’t deserve his Oscar: “What killed me about the focus on this scene is there are another 110 minutes of film I am going to pat myself on the back for. I was nominated by my peers who take editing very seriously and they know what I was doing there…
“A film editor’s job is to step back and tell the story. The film could have been four hours long. Making those painful decisions… My bottom line was the film has to be emotional.”
No-one would argue he certainly achieved that.
ORIGINAL INTERVIEW HERE