A Conversation for BB NaJoPoMo

Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 1

Bluebottle

On Sunday I took my son to the cinema to see 'Bohemian Rhapsody', the Queen biopic, with my wife having seen it a couple of weeks ago and deciding that it was suitable for him to see. As a biopic it obviously compresses several years into an hour or two by vastly simplifying matters, presenting only one point of view and making most characters heroes or villains, combining different characters into one, rearranging events into the most dramatic sequence and heightening tension by overdramatising matters, making minor disagreements into vast arguments that threaten to destroy the group. And of course you can't have a biopic without the distant father figure. C'est la vie. With a biopic you've got to take all that with a pinch of salt (although with a rock biopic, the white powder is unlikely to be salt…)

With all that in mind I must say that we all (my son packed two puppets, his cuddly Captain Hook smiley - pirate and he even brought my cuddly Batman smiley - hero for me to hold, although I ended up with him cuddling up to me for much of the film anyway) tremendously enjoyed the film. Well, with that soundtrack it had a huge advantage to begin with and the cast looked eerily realistic. It remarkably captured the highs and lows, joie de vivre and empty hedonism. It also reintroduces Queen to a new generation (not that my son has been deprived of Queen, obviously – though he was disappointed that the film didn't feature his favourite Queen song, 'The Invisible Man'). It also discussed frankly both AIDS and Live Aid. Raising frank awareness of charity and health issues is always positive, and means that if it inspires just one person to do more for charity or see a smiley - doctor when they otherwise would not have, it has been a force for good.

The only annoying thing was the end credits. After the obligatory 'in real life this is what happened to the characters' bit they showed genuine footage of the real Queen in concert – but most of the people in the cinema walked out! They'd sat through all the fake-Queen story, but now at last there was real Queen on the big screen, off they went. Philistines!

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Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 2

Bluebottle

Mind you, the soundtrack album looks good. If only there was someone I could discuss Queen-related matters with who would give me their honest opinion…

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Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 3

SashaQ - happysad

smiley - bigeyes


Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 4

Bluebottle

So have you bought/planning on buying/asking smiley - santa for Christmassmiley - gift the 'Bohemian Rhapsody' 'soundtrack' album, and why?

I didn't know if you'd like to see this week's Eastleigh parkrun report: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/eastleigh/news

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Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 5

SashaQ - happysad

smiley - laugh That is a great parkrun report! Cleverly done smiley - ok

"With a biopic you've got to take all that with a pinch of salt (although with a rock biopic, the white powder is unlikely to be salt…)"

smiley - laughsmiley - ok

Thank you for this review of the film - I'm not a fan of biopics in general so I am not planning to see it, but from what I have read about it you capture the essence of it perfectly.

That is good that some issues were discussed frankly without being too graphic so that as wide an audience as possible could experience the message. Very strange that people walked out instead of watching the real footage, though! Philistines indeed!

Some Queen fans have strong views and direct their vitriolic ire towards Brian May and Roger Taylor, as the ones who have taken on the Queen name. However, I was pleased to see that the Queenonline messageboard was reasonable towards them overall. Quite a number of posters share my view of the situation, though, that they don't agree with everything the pair have done with the Queen name, but still like them in the sense that they are a key part of Queen and it is good to see them around.

The biggest plus of the film is that it does seem to be most appealing to people who know of Queen but don't know too much about them, so it provides an introduction to the great music with an entertaining-enough story alongside it, perfect to create a new generation of fans indeed!

I can imagine your son does a great impression of the Invisible Man video! smiley - cool


Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 6

Bluebottle

Yep - Biopics are fiction and so they're not intended to be totally accurate, just giving a gist that compresses umpteen years into 90 minutes or so. They do a very different job to documentaries; if you want accuracy then see a documentary instead. Complaining about the trivia (such as the vast amount of vitriol dedicated to how in 'Nowhere Boy' in a scene set in 1957 John Lennon is shown drinking from a 1960 pint glass. The smiley - empty is a prop! It doesn't have any impact on the story!) is like going to the cinema to see the latest sci-fi blockbuster and complaining that what is shown is beyond the capability of modern science. (Admittedly I still enjoy analysing and critiquing biopics, but teasingly.)

After reading that I was worried - 'what have they done to the Queen name?' smiley - yikes
I dashed home half expecting to see all my Queen albums suddenly changed to be by a band called 'neQue' with many of my favourite songs mysteriously deleted overnight. Fortunately it looks like anything they're doing is not in any way, shape or form changing or deleting the past, so nothing has been taken away. That means that anything they're doing from now on can only be adding to what already exists. Now you might think that something like, say, 'Return of the Champions' doesn't actually add a great deal, but the important thing is that the existence of Paul Rodgers cover versions doesn't delete the original.

One of Queen's greatest strengths was that all four were highly talented songwriters and musicians. Brian May and Roger Taylor have every right to do what they like to songs that they wrote, and they had various degrees of input in the Queen songs they didn't. Cover versions of popular songs are inevitable – Queen themselves did covers during their live acts, such as 'Hey Big Spender' to name but one – so if Brian May and Roger Taylor want to do cover versions of their own act, why not? The intended audience has every right to ignore the new stuff if they so choose.

Or is it not so much the artistic side but what they are they doing on the legal side that Queen fans are questioning? Is it like how Yoko Ono refused to allow Paul McCartney to change the Songwriting credit on the 100% written by Paul McCartney song 'Yesterday' to 'by Paul McCartney and John Lennon' rather than 'by Lennon/McCartney' and then declared that she is changing the Songwriting credit to 'Imagine' from 'by John Lennon' to 'by John Lennon and Yoko Ono'.

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Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 7

SashaQ - happysad

Yes, I think it is good to enjoy but critique biopics so it is clear what is and isn't artistic licence smiley - ok

The name that seems to be popular on Queenonline is HalfQueen, but neQue is perfect! smiley - laughsmiley - ok

There is some concern online about 'alternative facts' aiming to change the past into how certain people would have liked things to be rather than how they were, but original and contemporary material does still exist to help with that...

"if Brian May and Roger Taylor want to do cover versions of their own act, why not? "

Why not indeed, but the issue some fans have is that BM and RT's own bands post 1991 weren't in the same league as Queen so it feels like they are using the Queen name to get more than they are entitled to, somehow... Has Paul McCartney ever been tempted to set up The Beatles+ ?


Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 8

SashaQ - happysad

The soundtrack album does look good - an eclectic mix of songs including less well known ones to give a good flavour of Queen smiley - ok


Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 9

Bluebottle

It is indeed a good album which I am unexpectedly listening to as I type this. Bizarrely it doesn't have 'Queen' written on the cover, just 'Bohemian Rhapsody' with 'The Original Soundtrack' underneath. 'Queen' is mentioned on a little sticker on the plastic sleeve, which is normally chucked away, and there is an image of Freddy Mercury with the Queen logo as a watermark behind.

You're right that facts are often rewritten in biopics. They do tend to present things from one point of view and can villainise characters. However Queen themselves could be said to have done that a tad, as it is just possible to read 'Death on Two Legs' as being a not entirely positive personal critical appraisal… However you never know, biopics often come in pairs – if 'Bohemian Rhapsody' did well another studio might well make another one. See 'Capote' (2005) and 'Infamous' (2006) about Truman Capote, 'Churchill' and 'Darkest Hour' (both 2017) about Winston Churchill. So the people who wanted a darker biopic with sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll might get one after all – although possibly less rock 'n' roll if they can't get the license.

With a bandname 'Queen' the motto surely has to be 'Freddy Mercury is dead, long live Queen'?
Many bands that have lost key members still continue touring regardless. There's only two of The Who but they're still going, the Rolling Stones are too. As neither Brian May nor Roger Taylor killed Freddy Mercury it seems unfair to say they shouldn't be allowed to do the same. They have a much stronger right to the Queen name together than the 3 different groups touring as 'Boney M' (the different members got different rights to the name, so one person can be 'Boney M' in Germany while a different member is allowed to be 'Boney M' in the UK and so on) or Brian Wilson, who has performed with a Beach Boys tribute act, or Meat Loaf who in his last tour was unable to sing and so got American Idol winner Caleb Johnson to sing instead. Did you know 'The Three Degrees' have never split up and have still been going as a trio since 1963 – the line-up has frequently changed since then, but there has never not been a group called 'The Three Degrees'.

While Paul McCartney hasn't formed a 'Beatles +' Ringo Starr has toured as 'The All Starr Band' with famous performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Harry Nilson Jeff Lynne, and members of the Who, Mott the Hoople, Cream, the Band, the Eagles and so on. They were both involved in the release of two John Lennon demos in the early 1990s, 'Free as a Bird' and 'Real Love', as Beatles tracks with Ringo and George also adding to them. George was reluctant to do anything under the Beatles name since the split, barely mentioning the band in his autobiography, and only agreed to the Anthology project including the singles because he was desperate for money in the early 1990s when his film company, Handmade Films, collapsed. Paul and Ringo agreed to help George out, only for George to loose interest as soon as he won the court case and have some money again and then refused to do the third song they had planned.
Paul spent most of the 70s trying not to be a Beatle and has every now and then released things under different aliases to get away from the 'McCartney' name too, including 'Percy 'Thrills' Thrillington', 'The Fireman' and 'The Country Hams'. When he appears on other people's records he's often under an assumed name. Roger Daltry of The Who keeps trying to get Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to tour with them as 'The Whotles'…

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Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 10

SashaQ - happysad

That is rather unusual to only put Queen on the plastic that is taken off rather than on anything more integral to the cover! Especially given that the songs aren't exactly the versions that were included in the film, is that right? smiley - laugh

Yeah, changing lineups and tribute bands are other kettles of fish indeed - not that I would ever see one because the music tends to be too loud, but I personally prefer the idea of tribute bands that don't try too hard to impersonate the originals... That's good about the All Starr Band - sounds similar to the SAS Band smiley - ok

'Death on Two Legs' is a delicious song - might have been inspired by one particular person, but it can be used as a cathartic song when other people seem deserving of the dedication smiley - grrsmiley - devil


Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 11

Bluebottle

Yes, it isn't really the songs as sung in the film. I mean, I've nothing against Rami Malek, but he's an actor, he's no Freddie Mercury when it comes to singing. So it is a collection of studio and live versions of their songs, including their Live Aid performance. The earliest live performance on the album is from 1974, so the 50th anniversary is only 6 years away.
(Was that the year they had their first US tour that ended in illness? If so any recordings from the US leg of that tour will be released in 2024 and there's a good chance that as each album approaches its 50th anniversary they'll release new editions to keep hold of the copyright of any unreleased takes and tracks.)

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Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 12

SashaQ - happysad

"Yes, it isn't really the songs as sung in the film"

smiley - ok

I read that Marc Martel did much of the singing too, but that is good that the 'soundtrack album' showcases the original and best smiley - ok

Yes, Queen did well celebrating the 40th Anniversary, so they do keep an eye on these things smiley - ok 1974 was the year that the US tour ended with Brian May being ill with hepatitis, yes.


Is this the Real Life? Is this just Fantasy?

Post 13

Bluebottle

2024 is the year that the bootlegs of any recordings made at their US venues will start appearing. Queen will have 3 choices: ignore it and do nothing, release the material first (just like Bob Dylan and his 14 multi-disc album volumes to date of bootleg material, or as bonus tracks on reissued albums) or release a better, official live album to drown out the unofficial live album rivals (such as the Beatles' 'Live at the Hollywood Bowl' released to counter the unofficial bootleg albums).

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