Bohemian Rhapsody: Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury in 2018
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The movie was a staggering box office success. It banked over $900million worldwide, making it not just the biggest musical and biopic but the biggest drama of all time. A slew of awards followed and Freddie Mercury was once more one of the most famous and beloved figures in the world. Yet, vocal critics slammed the film for tampering with timelines and allegedly whitewashing any uglier sides of Freddie’s life. One man was there every day by Freddie’s side for twelve years and tells Express Online the truth.
Queen stars Brian May and Roger Taylor were closely involved with the movie and have openly spoken about the need to take artistic licenses to condense or rearrange the timeline. For example, Freddie’s revelation to the band that he had AIDS did not happen just before Live Aid.
Peter Freestone was his PA and live-in friend for the last decade of his life and says he understands why some plot points were changed, but he told Express Online that one major conflict that paints Freddie in a poor light simply was not true.
In the movie, Freddie is shown taking an unpopular break from the band for a solo record deal which upsets and alienates his bandmates. He is shown estranged from them and having to beg their forgiveness when he wants to return for Live Aid in July 1985.
Peter says: “This is one thing in the film which is jarring. In the film, they make a huge drama about Freddie’s solo deal. The fact is, Roger had already done two solo albums and Brian had done one. The big thing was that Freddie got more money. Freddie was never going to leave the band.”
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Bohemian Rhapsody presents a situation where Freddie and his bandmates hadn’t seen each other for a long time and were worried they didn’t have time to rediscover their old magic.
Peter says: “The film makes out Live Aid was such a gamble because they hadn’t played together for years. They actually just finished a tour a month or two before.”
In fact, earlier the same year, Queen had played their legendary two record-breaking nights at Rock in Rio on January 11 and 18.
In April and May, they finished the final leg of The Works World Tour, which had started in 1984, in support of a hit album which included major hits Radio Ga Ga, Hammer to Fall and I Want to Break Free. Clearly, they were not estranged and not out of practice playing as a band.
Despite acknowledging the altered timelines, Peter says: “Bohemian Rhapsody did an incredible job. I always say to people who criticise, ‘It is a film, not a documentary.’
“It’s a part of my life, everything that is shown. I was there. I should have more reason to complain about things that are wrong than the fans but, sorry, it’s a film.
“If you want a documentary, there are loads on Youtube you can watch.”
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