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I’ve waited my whole life to see “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Written By: chriscat65 - Nov• 04•18

Today, the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” came out in theatres. I am, and have been almost all my life, a true blue Freddie Mercury and Queen fan. So, I knew I would be sitting in the IMAX theatre the very first showing. I even picked out my seat and bought my ticket the night before, just to be sure. Fortunately for me, the place was not packed. Being a weekday, there were only about 30 or so people in the entire place.

Everyone who’s known me since I was young is well aware of my lifelong obsession with Freddie, and Queen of course (before that was the Bay City Rollers, who struck in me a love of Scotland that also never went away). But it was Freddie who drew me to the band. No, not in concert, not even in records, but in a photograph from a teen magazine I read when I was only 11 years old. It was 1976 and I saw this black and white photo of a cute young man with long black hair and striking brown eyes. He wore a jacket, open, with his hairy chest for all to see. I was absolutely smitten. I placed it on a cork board and began my search for more. My first car, a 1968 Mustang Coupe, boasted only an 8-track tape player and my first 8-track was Queen’s first album. I absolutely went crazy for the songs on that album. My Fairy King was my favorite song. I loved the fantasy elements to the words and the music had a good rock beat I adored.

Afterwards, and throughout my youth, I collected EVERYTHING I could find on Queen, and particularly on Freddie. I joined their fan club and still have in storage the newsletters I received in the mail. My bedroom looked like a shrine to Queen! As I grew older and into adulthood, the obsession didn’t cease. I wanted nothing more than to meet Freddie face to face, to talk to him, to be his friend. I knew I wasn’t alone in this, but at a young age we all live in the moment and every feeling to us is stronger and more unique than any others’. Being autistic (which I did not know then), having Asperger’s, my emotions were strong and difficult to contain. I was so in love with Freddie Mercury, I would draw my name as Christine (or Chrissy) Balsara (I always used his birth name). To this day, the inside of the closet that was once in my bedroom (which is now my office) is written “Christine and Freddie forever,” variations of our names together, and other homages to Queen. There was not a single interview, article or photograph I did not savor and save. Kids in school bullied me relentlessly, not only because I was “different,” but because of my obsession over Freddie. They would say terrible things about him, and I even slammed one boy into a locker and warned him never again to say another bad word against Freddie.

To this day, I still consider myself Freddie’s number one fan. In 1991, I was dating a man who got off on insulting my “love” for a “gay man.” One day I received a phone call from him, and I still recall his hurtful exact words. “Your boyfriend, Freddie Mercury is dead.” I called him a liar and just cried and cried when I got off the phone to discover it was true. My heart has never healed from losing this amazing talented and wonderful man. Though I never met him face to face as I’d always dreamt, I did see Queen at New Haven, CT in 1986 (I was 21). My friends and I had upper row seats, but no one guarded the floor, so I shuffled my way through the massive and close crowd (all standing), until I was against the stage! At the end of the show, Freddie came out wearing a crown and long royal red robe, carrying a huge armful of white carnations, which he tossed out to the audience. I got one of those flowers and pressed it in wax paper to preserve it (and still have it in storage).

Fast forward to 2018. I am now 53 years old. One day, over the summer, a friend on Facebook pasted an ad for a new movie coming out–Bohemian Rhapsody. My friend wrote “Look, a movie about Queen is coming out!” I thought my heart would jump out of my chest! I HAD to see it immediately when it was released. And so, today, was that day. I went alone, found a good seat, got my popcorn and soda, and did not move for over 2 hours! Here is my thoughts, as someone who has spent her life as Freddie’s number one fan:

*WARNING* SPOILER ALERT (if you have not seen this movie yet, you may not wish to read all of this).

I have to start with saying that, before the movie came out, I read many people saying it did not touch on Freddie’s sexuality, AIDS diagnosis or his boyfriends. They could not have been more wrong! The movie seemed to be all about Freddie’s realization that he was not “straight.” This was mixed with stories of the band, their relationships with each other and how they came up with such brilliant music.

If you saw the movie, I want to interject here that I love Roger’s song “I’m in love with my car.”

The movie opens with Freddie going out on stage to perform for Live Aid in 1985. I do recall watching that, if only to see Queen (and a few others I really liked). It then transports us back to the ’70’s when Roger and Brian were in a band called Smile. I remember well hearing about that band when Queen was young. In the movie Freddie mentions that due to an excess of teeth in his mouth, it allowed him extra vocal range. (Later, in the mid-80’s, I heard an interview where Freddie refused to get his teeth fixed because it might compromise his singing). Whether or not, Freddie really did have a four-octave range due to his teeth is under question.

Here, I need to make comment on the actor who played Freddie and the band… having always watched Freddie from the ’70’s until he passed in 1991. Rami Malek did a phenomenal job in this movie. One can tell he studied Freddie’s moves extremely well. However, to me, he looked nothing like Freddie! Oh sure, sometimes in the onstage scenes, he had the moves down so well I was able to suspend my disbelief a bit. But, Freddie had deep, soulful brown eyes. I do not think they even used contact lenses on Rami, for in close-ups, his eyes were hazel. Also, the prosthetic teeth did not have the same shape and prominence as Freddie’s. One other tiny nit picky… he didn’t have enough hair on is chest! I told you… decades of studying every nuance of Freddie’s looks and behavior makes me a bit of a critic to anyone playing him. I wonder what the real Mary Austin thought of seeing another man play Freddie?

The only actor I felt got “the look” the closest was Gwilym Lee, who played Brian May. I don’t know if it was real or make-up, but he had the hair, the nose, the look and the moves down pat (I know he worked closely with Brian during the making of this movie). Roger Taylor, as a young man was extremely attractive. However, Ben Hardy, who played him, was cuter in a boyish way (only with the “Roger hair”), but I saw nothing of the real Roger Taylor (with the exception of onstage drumming, as again, he worked closely with Roger Taylor on learning to play him, hence he was phenomenal). Forget about the actor who played John Deacon. He did not even come close. Not until he permed his hair. I remember when John chose that hairstyle, though I always hated it. I’m a long-hair-on-guys loving gal. I remember my disappointment when Freddie cut his hair as well. Brian was the only “true” rock star aesthetically in my opinion, for to this day his hair is long (though no longer brown, but white with age) he still looks the part.

The movie barely touched on the other band member’s personal lives. An inaccuracy that really stood out to me was when Roger was with girlfriend, Dominique. In the movie, he states that he has “wife and kids and all that,” but in reality Roger never married Dominique. They did have two children together, and I recall that well back in the day, seeing photos of her. I knew all the kid’s names, girlfriends, wives, etc. I called myself Chrissie for awhile because Brian May married a girl named Chrissie (Christine, same name as myself). I even remember when their son, Robert, was born!

Back to the movie. I remember being heartbroken when I found out Freddie had a girlfriend named Mary Austin way back when. So, it was interesting to me to see how they represented their relationship. I knew they had lived together and that he wrote “Love of my Life” for her. However, I do not think they offered an accurate depiction of how the two met. I had always heard Brian introduced them. In the movie, he noticed her (and came on to her) backstage at a Smile concert (before he joined up with Brian and Roger). He visited her workplace and their relationship began there. At least in the movie. I know movies have to change and embellish certain things (I am an actress as well as a writer) for dramatic effect. I also wonder… did he really give her an engagement ring? That seemed real enough to me, and as it was done in private, it’s possible as it never became public.

One other inaccuracy I discovered was that Freddie was depicted as being a smoker. I do not EVER recall him smoking before the mid-80’s. As a matter of fact, I have on tape an interview with Freddie in the latter half of the ’80’s stating that he had “taken up the bad habit of smoking recently.” My belief was that he thought “what the hell” after he found out he had AIDS. But the movie depicts him smoking throughout. Perhaps he did in the early years, quit then went back to it? I can’t be sure, but I always saw Roger with a cigarette in photos, but never Freddie.

Now…for accuracies, I did know that Freddie adored his cats (as do I… I’m a cat behaviorist with several award-winning books on cats). I also knew he would phone home when on the road to “talk” to his cats. This fact is gratefully depicted in the movie. I think the cats were one of my favorite aspects of the film. As someone who always dreamt of going on a “rock star” type tour, I know I would have the most trouble leaving behind my precious cats (and my horse).

When Queen broke off with their record company (also depicted), the song “Death on Two Legs” was written to Trident for “screwing them over,” so to speak. I wish they had put that song in the movie.

The movie also went on to show Freddie speaking with his doctor about his AIDS diagnosis. Though there was nothing graphic sexually in the movie, Freddie’s lavish orgy parties were touched upon. And his eventual relationship with Jim Hutton was also there.

Overall, I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. The few inaccuracies and some parts left out I feel should have been put in (such as their acquisition of John Deacon) take the one star away. I understand not *everything* can be put in a movie and all in all they did a marvelous job. Bravo!

Personally, I have always been a huge fan of the rock and roll star (esp the ’80’s) life. Hence my series “Anachronistic Dimensions” about a rock star who falls in love with a woman from another time dimensions. I did much research on the life of rock stars off-stage for that one. If you love romance fantasy (and/or rock stars), pick up a copy.

Beyond Every Mirror
Beyond a Veiled Reflection

Please feel free to write to me if you like, make comments (please, positivity is best) about Queen, the movie, my books, or whatever is on your mind.

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