Film Friday: Bohemian Rhapsody

Farrokh Bulsara is a baggage handler at Heathrow, pitching up at Smile concerts, hoping to get a look in with Brian May’s band. This happens big time when their lead singer quits to join another group. Farrokh is at first rebuffed but when he demonstrates his extraordinary singing voice everything changes, including his name. And so Freddie Mercury is born. Here are a couple of bits and pieces from the film:

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Freddie was an extraordinarily talented man, demonstrated perhaps most vividly when Queen stole the show at the 1985 Live Aid concert. Having not done much together for a while as a band they were nervous about doing the epic world-wide gig, and then Freddie went out and immediately got the 70,000 strong crowd eating out of his hand. No one was more at home in front of an audience than Farrokh Bulsara. But like many folks bedecked with fame, he struggled in the normality of life. He once said this:

“You can have everything in the world and still be the loneliest man. And that is the most bitter type of loneliness, success has brought me world idolisation and millions of pounds. But it’s prevented me from having the one thing we all need: A loving, ongoing relationship.”

In the movie La La Land there is a song called City of Stars about the longing to be loved and to know that we are all right. We may aspire to that 15 minutes of success and triumph only to find that these things can rob us of the source of true significance and purpose. We all long to be loved, to be okay, to be affirmed, and we all look in the wrong places. Freddie struggled with this and, as a private man, expressed it mostly in his songs. ‘The Show Must Go On…’ Freddie sang on the last album Queen released before his death, ‘I have to find the will to carry on with the show…’ In the single Save Me he called out, ‘Save me – I can’t face this life alone, I’m naked and I’m far from home.’ Surely the very song that the prodigal son could have sung.

When Freddie takes his partner Jim Hutton around to see his family, concerned and perturbed by Freddie’s lifestyle, they ask about Jim. Freddie reaches out a hand and places it on Jim’s and replies, ‘He’s my friend.’ I found that moment so moving and tender. A friend. A place to call home, a robe to cover our nakedness. We all need these. And if ever there was a tale which offered hope it’s the one about the two lost sons. One in the sludge and the mud dreaming of hope and home, the other mired in trying to earn acceptance and favour. Both need saving, and there’s a father with a new robe, and food, and the greatest welcome of all time.

Freddie Mercury did actually write a song about the life of Jesus, here it is to close…

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