Review: Bohemian Rhapsody, the official book of the film

[Gifted/AD: I was gifted this book to review, at my own request, and have previously collaborated with Carlton books.]

Where were you when you heard your first Queen song? What was your reaction: love it or lump it?

I was five years old; You’re My Best Friend played in the car while we were on holiday, the man at the wheel drumming along ever so slightly offbeat. A teeny tiny bag of boiled sweets is on my lap; the sunset outside has me captivated, along with the sandy cliffs.

I am too young to remember Queen, or even Freddie Mercury; they are however my favourite band. For that reason, I was delighted to receive a copy of the new book, Bohemian Rhapsody, published by Carlton Books, that accompanies the biopic of the same name.


Initial thoughts:

Whenever there’s a theatre performance, there’s usually a programme to accompany it. Due to the way it’s printed, as well as presented, Bohemian Rhapsody has this feel. The remit of the book is therefore very simple, and wonderfully executed. There is no other way to describe it; it’s often hard to tell who is the real Mercury. 

For any fans of the film however, it’s advisable to read it afterwards. While there aren’t many plot spoilers, it gives great insight into the painstaking detail the biopic needed-enough so it could prevent the story being told. My overly analytical brain is now likely to think in terms of the book; “ah, the moustache has changed”, “The wardrobe has been adjusted there.” 

On further reading:

I really enjoyed this book; having yet to see the film, it allows you to see behind the scenes, while not spoiling the plot of the film. It vaguely mentions the film finished in 1985; apart from that, not much else. We can only assume what events, songs, this’ll cover.

It’s also very insightful. The detail that has gone into this film is incredible; from having a fuller moustache to reflect Mercury’s age, to slashing the Live Aid best for performance just a little lower, it has everything. It also has technical aspects; extras would wave, as if at a concert, change hats, then do it all again, to create an audience. 

I loved the photographs best of all. There is no other word for it; they are, in my (clearly prone to dramatics opinion) majestic. They are a real credit to the film, and there’s plenty of them in the book. (It’s partly why the book is so thick!)

Cast, crew, and camera men make an appearance throughout; I would have liked more than just Rhami Malek being the focus. He may play the title role of Bohemian Rhapsody as Freddie Mercury, but the other cast members should also be documented in as much detail. 

There could have also been part of the ext dealing with the production of the film; why did it take so long? And what happened? Were the rumours of in-house fighting actually true? I chatted with a Mercury biographer to find out more; this could have been a less glossy narrative in the book, however.

Conclusions drawn:

If you know a Queen fan, this is the ultimate Christmas gift for them. (It also makes a pretty good stocking filler.) It also accompanies the film really well; just make sure you read it after! 

To buy the book, click here.

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