Bohemian Rhapsody - The Meaning of Music

25 April, 2020
Bohemian Rhapsody is an opportunity to, once again, enjoy music and enjoy the portrayal of one of the most emblematic and innovative groups of the 20th century. More than a biopic, it's a reminder that music must move you, make you vibrate and, ultimately, feel.

Bohemian Rhapsody is controversial, so people’s opinions about it are quite diverse. This is because the film deals with many of the facets of Freddie Mercury that biographers either didn’t address or merely softened in their past accounts. The world of music and, especially, the popular rock of the mid-20th century is commonly linked to hedonism and nihilism. When someone thinks of a rock star, they think of a person living in excess. They think of musicians as misunderstood dark geniuses who had to sedate themselves by doing all sorts of drugs, drinking alcohol, and participating in orgies.

It seems impossible to break the association between excess and rock. However, there are many exceptions, such as Bruce Springsteen. Without a doubt, it seems that drugs, sex, and rock and roll go hand in hand. Perhaps this is what some expected to see when they watched Bohemian Rhapsody. Similarly, they may have expected a deeper insight into Mercury’s disease, HIV, and how it led him to lose a foot and other problems that weren’t part of the film.

At this point, one might wonder if the film is a biopic of Freddie Mercury or Queen. Thus, to answer that question, the story is a biopic of the band. Yes, it’s true that most of the scenes concentrate on Freddie, but it’s also true that the front man is always the most popular person in a band. People loved Freddie due to his spectacular voice, the way he connected with the public, and his extravagances. In fact, his death made him immortal and people consider him a sort of god due to his talent and genius. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising that he was the soul of the film.

Bohemian Rhapsody – beyond Freddie Mercury

If you think that Bohemian Rhapsody is a faithful and detailed account of the life of Freddie Mercury, then you’ll be disappointed. Like any adaptation, it begins with a story and follows a specific path. Keep in mind that cinema, faithful as it may be to reality, is still a narrative, an artistic creation that, in turn, has a time limit. For this reason, the chronology is left to imagination, as the creators take certain creative liberties. This method may either be a big hit or a failure.

Leaving aside cinematographic questions, this is a timely film released at the perfect moment. Music, the mother of arts, evolves continuously. Many of its exponents become more popular over the years, while others fall into oblivion. In the end, the ones who survive are those whose works become timeless and, therefore, significant.

In recent years, music is just another product to consume and quantity seems to be more important than quality and old music is what was popular a year ago. Do young people even know who Freddie Mercury was? One would think that the vast majority do, given that he was such a popular singer. However, this isn’t the case.

An ode to music

Bohemian Rhapsody is an ode to music, to that music in which auto-tune wasn’t readily available and a singer’s creativity was essential (as long as the producer agreed to it). The evil image of the record companies is also present in the film. It was the beginning of consumerism and the masses weren’t interested in opera, much less so in a song that exceeded three minutes in length. Against all odds, Queen managed to captivate a very diverse audience, demonstrating that people most definitely wanted to buy quality products.

A group of actors portraying Queen, the band.

Bohemian Rhapsody shows music as a common thread

If you understand music and know what it’s about, then you can enjoy it at a deeper level that’s hard to explain with words. However, even those who don’t necessarily understand music theory can enjoy it. This is because music can transmit primal emotions and sensations and evoke memories.

Depending on your emotional state or the time of day, you’ll be more predisposed to a certain music style. Your sensations multiply when you attend a concert. But going to a Queen concert must’ve been quite an experience. In recent years, standardization is taking place and innovation is no longer that important, only profit. Although this isn’t a new concept, it’s definitely the norm in this era.

There are no borders to music. This is something you can clearly appreciate in a scene in which Mercury shows Mary a video of a concert in Rio. The singer expresses the uncertainty of playing in front of an audience that doesn’t understand his lyrics, yet is pleasantly surprised to discover that the crowd is singing “Love of My Life” along with him. This is because the language of music goes beyond words. Thus, it isn’t necessary to understand the lyrics of a song to understand its essence.

In a time when it seems that everything old belongs in a dusty trunk, Bohemian Rhapsody rescues the torrent of emotions that music unleashes. The film invites its audience to sing, dance, celebrate life, and forget about the mundane. Thus, there’s no place for the tragic because music creates unity and moves you. This is exactly what some people feel when they watch the film, especially Rami Malek’s parts and the Live Aid scene.

A shot of a concert.

Love

Bohemian Rhapsody is the love of music, the love of art, but also the love of differences, family, and friends. It’s about the unity of Queen. In fact, their discussions and arguments are a huge part of the plot. In addition, there’s the singular relationship between Freddie, his cats, and Mary Austin, the main heir to his fortune and one of the most important people in his life.

Freddie came from a family of deep-rooted traditions that contrasted with the British way of life in that era. However, he adopted a new identity and distanced himself from them. Still, the audience gets to witness a deeply emotional moment near the end of the film. It’s the scene where the singer reconciles with his father and they both accept each other as they are. The film naturally addresses the singer’s sexual preference. However, you do get to see the predatory press that’s more anxious to know who Freddie shares his bed with than his music.

A scene of Bohemian Rhapsody.

The film shows the cloudiness of the homosexual world. They hide in bars and in the darkest sides of the cities. And this is something that, unfortunately, hasn’t changed much. Perhaps because many criticize it and even persecuted it. Thus, people who stray from what’s “normal” just retreat to certain places. There, in addition to hiding, some of them follow a path of promiscuity or at least, adopt reckless practices. The press conference in the film is truly revealing. In it, you see a distraught and determined Mercury who’s determined not to reveal his sexual orientation.

Final notes

The film also provides the opportunity to enjoy some of Queen’s most emblematic concerts. Live Aid, for instance, a concert that most people of that generation didn’t get to see. In turn, it’s a treasure for the new generations, something that reflects in the massive reproduction of music of the British band since the premiere of the film. Bohemian Rhapsody was nominated for many Academy Awards in 2019. Especially Rami Malek’s portrayal, who was exceptional as Freddie. This isn’t an intellectual film but one to celebrate life, music, and, ultimately, everything it evokes.