Bohemian Rhapsody has numerous historical inaccuracies that have been criticized for misrepresenting the legacy of Freddie Mercury. Biopics are a hard project to pull off, especially when one of the of the main subjects of the movie has passed away. Rami Malek’s portrayal of Mercury is praised, and rightfully so, but the story comes off as a bit weird in places, especially since anybody with an internet connection can Google the history of the band. Bohemian Rhapsody almost comes off like the band was trying to take away from Mercury’s legacy at times.
One of the biggest complaints about Bohemian Rhapsody is about Freddie Mercury quitting Queen to go solo. In the movie, drummer Roger Taylor was the loudest complaining. However, in reality, Taylor had already released two solo albums and guitarist Brian May also released a solo album before that. With that being said, there is no evidence that the band ever broke up, which makes the scene where Rami Malek as Mercury pleads to come back to the band seem incredibly unflattering, especially when they make him sit out in the hall to make their decision.
Elsewhere in Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen is portrayed as a bunch of choir boys, except for Freddie Mercury. Freddie was out there the most, but the band used to party, it has been documented. They weren’t always telling Freddie that they had to go home to their wives and kids. This was the 1970s in the heyday of rock excess, not the 1950s folk scene. It’s scenes like this that come off as the band having a grudge against Mercury’s legend. Queen were a band that split songwriting royalties straight down the middle, four ways. There’s no taking away from what the band accomplished as a unit, but there seems to be some revisionist history going on that did not have to happen.
Now comes the part of Bohemian Rhapsody, which was more than likely changed around to fit the narrative of the story. In the movie, Freddie Mercury reveals to the band that he has AIDS during the 1985 rehearsals for their triumphant gig at Live Aid. So, we have Freddie begging to get back in the band and then telling them he’s ill, only to have the movie end. The truth is, Mercury wasn’t diagnosed with AIDS until 1987, but this gives the movie its emotional highlight. The band went on to record more albums and gain hit singles in the years after Live Aid. Live Aid was more of the band telling the world that they were a force to be reckoned with on the stage.
Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t serve Freddie Mercury very well, especially when he’s hung over when Brian May comes up with the beat for “We Will Rock You.” It has been well-documented how much the entire band contributed to the writing process, not just certain members of the band taking credit 45 years after the fact. It’s no wonder why the band didn’t want to have anything to do with the gritty realistic story that Sacha Baron Cohen wanted to make. To be fair, bass player John Deacon had nothing to do with the movie, and hasn’t performed with the band since 1991. You can check out some other criticisms of Bohemian Rhapsody over at The Wrap.