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How accurate is Bohemian Rhapsody?

Bohemian Rhapsody

Compiled by Jack Foley

BOHEMIAN Rhapsody is a celebration of the legendary entertainers ‘Queen’ and a tribute to their lead singer Freddie Mercury.

In a period when stereotypes and unjust norms were rife in society Freddie Mercury defied them all and conquered the hearts of millions through his music.

The movie tells the story of the band’s spectacular rise and Mercury’s personal struggles. But like any movie based on true events the filmmakers have to make certain alterations to the story to suit the big screen.

They take artistic liberty to add a dramatic effect to their storytelling. So, the question is how much truth is there in Bohemian Rhapsody about Queen and Freddie Mercury?

Early Life

Freddie Mercury’s birth name was Farrokh Balsara, and he is the only famous Rock artist of Parsi community. This community follows the Zoroastrian religion and is originally from the erstwhile Persia, who left their homeland a thousand years ago for fear of persecution. They are now mostly located in India.

The movie captures Mercury’s past correctly but briefly. He was born in erstwhile Zanzibar and then lived in India before moving to England as a teenager with his family.

Freddie Mercury loved cats

In one of the sequences in the movie as many as six cats can be seen running around in Mercury’s house as he is preparing for a concert. At a later point we learn that the cats have separate rooms for each one of them.

One strange thing he does is asks for his cats to be put on the phone when he is away. His love for his feline friends is accurately depicted. His personal assistant Peter Freestone confirms this. He wrote that as soon as they reached their hotel he’d ask him to dial through and he’d actually talk to his pets.

How the band was formed

Bohemian Rhapsody

The story of how Queen came into being differs in the movie. Mercury explores music in London every night after finishing his shift at the Heathrow Airport. One band that he regularly listens to is Smile and at one of their gigs he overhears the lead singer Tim Stafell telling his band members that he is leaving after which Mercury suggests that he be made the lead singer.

In reality though, Mercury and Stafell were familiar from their time together at the Ealing Arts College. In 1968, Stafell introduced Mercury to his band and they remained in touch since then.

Mercury would express his opinions about stage performance and connection with the audience in front of the members of ‘Smile’. So when the time finally came for Stafell to leave Mercury was the obvious choice to replace him.

It is understandable why the script had to be altered in this regard. Telling the real events would have taken a long time and that is practical to fit in a two hour movie.

Four Extra Teeth

People in his close circle would always wonder as to why Freddy didn’t Mercury do anything about his weird teeth, he certainly had the money for it. The movie’s explanation about his overbite is pretty accurate. It’s true that his upper jaw had four extra teeth in the back. He believed that the extra teeth enhanced his voice so he didn’t remove them.