Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

About The Production (Cont'd)
THE LOOK & THE LOCATIONS

Given its subject matter, a band and front man for whom style was so fundamental, it's perhaps not surprising that the design, costumes and locations of the film were a key element. Feather boas, ermine and velvet capes, marble bathrooms, gold-plated lions--you name it, the film has it.

Tasked with creating the look of the film was production designer Aaron Haye, whose expert eye sought out the locations which included Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire, the glorious art deco masterpiece Hornsey Town Hall in north London, the LH2 Studios in west London, London's renowned night club Heaven and the Edwardian splendor of Bromley Town Hall in South East London.

The production used the Gillette building in southwest London for the majority of the stage sets in the film. These included 1950's Zanzibar, where we see Freddie in his childhood days, the Top of the Pops stage, which gave the band its break, Capitol Radio, the Bulsara family home, Garden Lodge, the Rio de Janeiro hotel and the farm house where Freddie composed "Bohemian Rhapsody," and three recording studios.

Haye began by researching images of Queen and Mercury. After sifting through thousands of photos, many with no dates but guided by Freddie's hairstyles which got shorter over time, they were able to make a timeline on the wall that went from 1970 to 1986.

Haye and the team were helped enormously by the access that Brian May gave to his archives and historical consultant Peter Freestone, who let them go through all his personal photographs. "In terms of our research, those things just put us leaps ahead of where we would have been if we had just been collecting them from the public domain and from books," says Haye. "Being able to go to Brian's house and go through his personal archives which are vast was pretty spectacular. He has saved every ticket stub and every poster, every album that they've ever produced. Even some of their wardrobe, which our actors wear in this film."

Continues Haye: "Once we had the timeline, I took a bit of a palette approach and decided on the colors of 1970, 1975, 1978, 1982, etc. We made a longer timeline that had certain touchstones along the way, and we tried to stick to those palettes in between construction and paint and set dec and wardrobe and everything else. As the '60s turned into the '70s, there's wonderful warm tones that are avocado and orange and brown--warm, earthy colors. From the mid to late '70s, it starts to get almost a disco palette--the primary colors start to pop a little bit more until we get to the early '80s, and there's a neon and brighter colored palette. These different eras have really distinct looks, and it's really a fantastic period to work with. Those 15 years, from 1970 to1985, a lot of stuff happened, and visually there's a lot to play with."

One of the key earlier sets is Freddie's family home in Feltham, Middlesex. Haye and his team were fortunate to be allowed into the real Bulsara home, now occupied by another family. "Standing in what was Freddie's bedroom, we got a sense of the space," he says. "We took the house and its neighbors and made them bigger for staging reasons and put our own flavor on it. At this point in the film, Freddie is a young art student, so Haye created a bedroom filled with notebooks of drawings and sketches. We really tried from an architectural standpoint to tell the story of the area that he grew up in and the economic circumstances that he grew up in, so we included visual influences from India and Zanzibar."

Of course, Haye collaborated with his fellow heads of department all through the creation process to tell the story of the film visually. "Department heads have to cooperate to make the final product and we know that what we're trying to do is create an image that's true to life but is also speaks to the story that we're trying to tell," he explains. "Those early conversations with cinematographer Tom Sigel helped define those color palettes. That goes for stage lighting as well because the stage lighting was key for all of the live gigs. We wanted to make sure that each of those concepts along the way fell within a certain look. Hopefully, that comes across. Tom is an amazing cinematographer and just his attention to detail is spectacular. The same goes for costume designer Julian Day. For example, in Freddie's home, Garden Lodge, the color palette of Julian's wardrobe choices complemented the set decoration perfectly."

Haye also was able to pick the brains of music consultant Pete Malandrone to ensure the musical equipment in the film was authentic. Many of the instruments were second-hand back in 1970, so it was very difficult to find copies for the film. But Malandrone, who also works as Brian May's guitar roadie, was able to lend the props department instruments from May's collection, including the white guitar Gwilym Lee plays in the Rockfield Studio scenes. He also advised on the design and makeup of the guitars that had to be made for the film. "For example, Brian's first guitar, the Red Special, which he still plays, was built by Brian's father out of whatever he had lying around the house--an old fireplace mantle, a knitting needle, motorcycle springs, mother-of-pearl buttons, etc. But it's now 50 years old and would have looked too worn, so the props guys made two replicas which look newer," he says.

The replicas were made by luthier Andrew Guyton who has made copies for Brian May's personal collection. "Andrew's an expert," says Malandrone. "Everything's about detail, and he's nailed every detail."

One of the biggest and most challenging sets was the Live Aid recreation at London's iconic Wembley stadium. The first task was finding a suitable empty location which was large enough to create a life-sized stage which would allow the creation of a seamless shot from Mercury's arrival at Wembley, to his dressing room, through backstage and onto the stage to the crowd's reaction. After much location scouting, Haye and his team found Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire whose runway was smooth enough to build on. The team also had to factor in the vagaries of the English summer, where in July, when the set was being constructed, and then in September, when the film began shooting, can often be like a Californian winter.

Haye had the added challenge of finding photos or drawings of the stadium in 1985. Blueprints of the original stadium, which was built in the 1930s, were easy to locate, but it was rebuilt later, and the designer struggled to find any original source material that showed what it was like at the time of Live Aid.

"We had to recreate Wembley from photographs of the time as well as documentary footage from Live Aid, but we also had to create a set that would best tell the story," recalls Haye. "In reality, the back stage was a bunch of trailers that were outside the stadium. We decided to bring a bit of that backstage trailer feel into the indoor concourse which leads up to the stage, so we created a backstage artist area with an airstream trailer and garden umbrellas and chairs to create more of a fun, inside-outside, buzzy, bustling atmosphere to the journey to the stage.

"We built a massive raised platform about 18 feet in the air, which matched the height of the Wembley stage at Live Aid," continues the designer. "Then we built a tent over the backstage area so it was under weather cover. We recreated exactly the giant scaffolding towers that were at Live Aid, as well as all the posters and the large-scale banners, some three stories in height, and the logos that adorn the sides of the stage."

In a nice piece of serendipity, the team included two members of the construction team that built the real stage for Live Aid in 1985.

Freddie Mercury's personal assistant Peter Freestone, who was with him for 12 years until his death, was an advisor on the film, and his personal knowledge was invaluable. His description of the backstage area of Live Aid helped Haye and his team create an authentic atmosphere.

"As soon as we arrived, we felt the excitement," recalls Freestone of that epic day in July 1985. "There was a good atmosphere. It was really friendly, and there was no competition, which quite often can happen when you have this sort of lineup. Queen took to the stage, and the audience went wild right from the start of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. And the atmosphere backstage changed; it became electric. Something had happened. Eighteen minutes later, the band came off stage and they'd nailed it. The audience was going wild, and backstage people were applauding."

All that hard work paid dividends. "It was amazing," says May. "The moment I walked onto that stage, it was surreal because it perfectly replicated what the stage was like in 1985 - every last detail down to the amps behind me, pedals and even the cloth and back stage with the cigarette butts and the ashtrays and the coke bottles. What a wonderful job they did!"

Peter Freestone was taken aback by the set's authenticity. "It was a déjà vu moment," he says. "The first time I saw the set I just couldn't believe it. It's exactly the same size. Everything was right, from the stage to backstage even to the peeling paint off the walls and the rust coming down from water pipes. It got the goose bumps going."

The cast also were in awe of Haye's achievement. Says Gwilym Lee who plays Brian May: "The set was so beautifully detailed that it transported us to that world. Those sets made the performance so much easier because you don't have to imagine anything, everything's been thought of, and it's so beautifully realized." "It was the first time we had seen our band in character," says Haye. "It really was a joy. I think it's one of those moments that you never forget, standing next to Brian and Roger as they watch the band."

For Graham King, the Live Aid scenes had an enormous emotional impact. "I just lost it," he admits. "I was in tears. I had never been like that on any movie set before. All the years started flooding back not only to do with this film but being young and watching Live Aid. We knew we had to get it right--the movement, the look, the crowd, it had to be accurate. And it felt right at the very first rehearsal, which was in the first week of filming. We did a lot of takes long into the night, and those four guys, Rami, Gwilym, Ben and Joe, were right inside their characters all the way through. The energy there was so high that no one wanted to stop! We all came together, and we knew we were creating something very special. Live Aid was such an important, precious event that we felt we had to honor it. And from the construction of the set to the music to the atmosphere to the performance, I think we did."

One of the main locations was the farm where Queen is shown recording "Bohemian Rhapsody". The song was in fact recorded in two places, Rockfield Farm and Ridge Farm in Wales, which provided the isolation and solitude that the band, like many bands of the time, required. Rockfield Farm still exists as a recording studio, and Haye was fortunate to have access to a documentary showing Brian May and Roger Taylor returning to the farm and breaking all the tracks down. In addition, a wide selection of photos of the band at Ridge Farm allowed the team to faithfully recreate the costumes and sets.

Haye decided to amalgamate the two real farms into one for the film and found a location that felt just worked perfectly, a 200-year-old oak beam barn just outside London, which was a working barn, filled with horses, hay and manure. Haye had it cleaned out and designed a mid-century style recording studio. Haye had built a recording desk based on a mixing desk from a studio in London's Notting Hill, which has a retrofuturist feel that would look right at home in a Star Trek episode from the '70s. It was designed as realistically as possible, right down to individual track monitoring lighting up the console, working pedal boards and meter bridges.

The studio itself followed the 1970s color palette. Says Haye: "We gave it that warm '70s feeling, so there's a lot of those browns and oranges and avocados. When Brian May showed up on set and played a bit of a solo from 'Bohemian Rhapsody' there, I got goose bumps!"

Haye was meticulous in his attention to detail in the recreations of the interiors. "Freddie and Mary lived in two flats before they sort of split base," he explains. "We built Freddie and Mary's flat set out of the two flats. But whenever we changed something, we tried to incorporate something to make it feel authentic. So, for example, the wallpaper in that flat is a recreation of wallpaper that they had in their apartment, right down to each little speck. And the wicker furniture is a recreation of what they had."

For Freddie's hotel suite in Rio de Janeiro, which was filmed at Gillette, Haye created a set resplendent with silk walls, fabric drapes, smoky glass, low-slung leather sofas and Japanese-style room dividers. "We were inspired by Freddie's flat in New York, which Peter Freestone told us Freddie never got round to decorating after he moved in. So, it felt like a hotel. It was about merging reality with our story."

Freddie's house, Garden Lodge in Earl's Court in west London, is a magical, secluded house surrounded by buildings, where Mary Austin still lives to this day. Haye found a house with an aspect situation in Surbiton, south of London, which he decorated with textured wallpaper, porcelain chandeliers, Japanese artwork, antiques and soft furnishings from around the world to reflect Freddie's magpie design instincts. Although unable to completely replicate the interior design, what Haye was keen to do was recreate the atmosphere. His hard work paid off; when Peter Freestone, who several spent years with Freddie in that house, saw it for the first time, he said it felt just like Freddie's house.

Haye had a lot of fun dressing the Garden Lodge set for the flamboyant, Fellini-esque party which celebrated, as Freddie gleefully trills, "the height of my creativity and the depth of my depravity". The first scene is shot in a single take, with the camera winding its way from the front driveway, through the front door and into a throng of fire eaters, giants, magicians, caged dancers and a gaggle of fabulously-attired party people until we join Freddie and follow him through the house and its decadent interiors.

Haye filled the house with layers of decoration. "First, we have the layer of luxury and then the layer of the debauchery, and the fun and excess that he was having at that time--massive displays of exotic food and fruit, golden lions. We wanted to bring in references to Freddie's interests and Queen's history, so, for example, we had female extras on stationary bicycles from the 'Bicycle Race' video."

One of the most fun scenes for Haye was recreating the "I Want to Break Free" video. "The making of the video is pretty well documented," he says, "and we wanted to get as close to that as we possibly could. And it gets to be loose, and it gets to have fun. We see a bit of the backstage and the area around it. We were lucky enough to be able to find an exact model of the vacuum cleaner that Freddie used as well as the lightup alarm clock that blows out steam at the beginning of the video, and we used an original 35mm camera that we see on camera. We shot it on 35mm just like the original."

Another challenge was finding a location that could double for Madison Square Garden, where Queen played a sell-out concert in 1978, as well as other stadiums in Japan, Brazil and the U.S. Haye opted for LH2 Studios in West London, which he dressed in several different ways. Working out the logistics of accommodating the film crew one day, while the studio stood in for an arena in Japan, while preparing it for the next scene, was a massive logistical challenge, especially given the style changes in lighting and set dressing through the years. It's easy enough to get the actors to change into different costumes and play different instruments to suit the year, but imagine having to update the stage lighting and set design from 1973 one day to 1982 the next.

"We had to come up with a way to quickly fly lights in and out and change the color," explains Haye. "Of course, we couldn't use contemporary LEDs; we had to use traditional lights, and those were hot. The rig that we built specifically over Madison Square Garden set was referred to as the pizza oven because it would bake you! The front of the stage got pretty hot up there, but the guys never complained."

COSTUMES, HAIR & MAKEUP

Working alongside Haye to create the look of the film were costume designer Julian Day and makeup and hair designer Jan Sewell.

For both heads of department, working on the film was a privilege. "Who wouldn't want to design for a film that is representing one of the most iconic rock bands ever to have existed?" says Day. "I was so excited about doing it, and it was a brilliant challenge. I did endless research. And what was interesting was not just recreating costumes for the well-known public events but also looking into what the look was for the undocumented parts of the band's life. I did a lot of reading about those and scoured the internet. For the recreations, I found out who made the original costumes and sought them out. We were also kindly invited by Brian May and Roger Taylor to go and look at their clothing archives, and that was really useful."

Indeed, Brian May was generous enough to lend some of his original collection clothing, including a tour dressing gown with his name on the back, a red dressing gown and several jackets, including one made out of velvet with a shiny collar which he wore in several photos from the time.

"For the live concert scenes, we designed two skintight lycra catsuits, the black and white harlequin catsuit and the silver sequin catsuit that we copied from the originals, and we asked Zandra Rhodes to design the incredible white batwing outfit for the Budakon concert. The story goes that it was originally adapted from a wedding dress she designed that Mercury fell in love with on a visit to her atelier."

One of the boldest costumes, Freddie's crown and red cape which he wears in the party scene at Garden Lodge, was made by the two people who worked on it originally.

"Some of the costumes are taken out of context slightly in the film, but we wanted to include some of his iconic costumes because we knew that's what people want to see," adds Day.

The film opens in 1970 in the London suburb of Ealing where Freddie Mercury grew up and ends in 1985, traversing several continents along the way. This journey is told through the clothes. "For the early scenes, I wanted to give it more of a '60s vibe, quite hippie, a sort of Woodstock feel. The colors were more subdued for Britain at the time. After three gigs in Britain, the film goes to America where they toured as a support group for five concerts there. For those scenes, there's a real American feel, quite a Western look with suede, fringing, checked shirts and cowboy hats. From there, the film moves to Japan where we have a much more colorful tone with pop art references."

As we move forward in time, the costumes become more flamboyant. For the scenes in 1980s New York, when Freddie began to explore the city's gay clubs, Day looked at a lot of Robert Mapplethorpe's work, photos of the meatpacking district in the 1970s and the Al Pacino film Cruising. He dressed the cast in leather, rubber, denim and chains, reflecting the more underground tone of those parts of the city. Meanwhile, there's a lot more flesh on show in the scenes in Rio de Janeiro.

This progression is reflected in Freddie's wardrobe. "When he was younger, Freddie worked in London's renowned Kensington Market, which was a hub of vintage traders, emerging fashion designers and style influencers, and the 1970s was obviously influenced by 1930s fashion. In Kensington Market he would have had access to everything from vintage stoles to 1930s suits and accessories, and he knew about clothes. I wanted to add those to his costumes.

"Freddie was more flamboyant in the 1970s but also very conscious about what he was saying through his clothes," continues Day, "and I wanted to bring a bit more color and shine to him, which represented who he was. But even though he was quite flamboyant, he was quite macho as well. It's interesting to play with those dual sides. As he moved into the 1980s, it became a bit more serious, and I wanted to tell the story of those changes in his life through his outfits. I was very keen in getting in his love of Japanese kimonos after the band's trip to Japan."

Day's work didn't go unappreciated by the cast. Says Rami Malek: "Julian is a phenomenal talent. I've seen a lot of his films, and I knew I was in great hands. We had about 50 hours of costume fittings, which I used as rehearsal time. And it was fun. I used that time to see how my moves were working in heels that were four-inch platforms or the tightest fitting satin pants or an entire Lycra outfit. Along with hair and makeup, the costumes elevate your level of confidence and help you solidify the character."

Like Freddie, Brian May and Roger Taylor had their own distinctive styles of dress. For Brian May's wardrobe, Day kept the palette mostly monochrome, dressing Gwilym Lee in blacks and whites, while Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor is more colorful and dandyish with lots of sleeveless waistcoats. John Deacon's wardrobe is an amalgamation of the three but with a British twist. In the scenes at Rockfield Farm, he's almost channeling Tom Baker-era Dr. Who in a long, striped scarf and African coats.

Says Gwilym Lee: "The costumes were one of the fun parts of the film. I was very lucky being allowed to wear some of Brian May's clothes from the period. It was a direct contact with the legend that you're playing. It was a real honor."

An honor, even though some of the outfits required some careful handling. "I wore a white leather bomber jacket with shoulder pads out to here! I had to turn sideways to get through door frames because it was so massive!" recalls Lee.

For Mary Austin, the only major female character in the film, Day had to rely mostly on conversations with friends and collaborators who knew her then. Mary worked at Biba, the iconic department store in London's Kensington High Street, founded by designer Barbara Hulanicki. Inspired by pre-Raphaelite, art deco and art nouveau styles, Hulanicki's designs in the 1970s included soft flowing dresses, wide-legged trousers and bell-sleeved blouses and jackets made of luxurious fabrics such as satin and velvet in deep burgundies, plums and purples in bold polka dots and stripes.

"Mary was a very stylish dresser who was put at the front of the store to represent the Biba look," says Day. "We tried to recreate that whole Biba look for her which stays with her through the film. Lucy Boynton was a joy to dress."

Lucy Boynton returns the compliment. "Julian and the costume design are just exquisite, and the pieces that you see replicated from Queen's actual costumes on stage are so beautifully done. The costumes they had handmade are just astonishing."

The documented costumes, the ones the band wore at Live Aid and in the videos, were both the easiest and the most difficult to recreate. Easiest because Day knew exactly what the clothes looked like, difficult because recreating real clothes is an unforgiving job as fans and commentators can spot the tiniest mistake as a result of all the source material being readily available online.

Day worked hard at getting the details precisely accurate. "When you start looking at the minutia of each outfit, it all becomes more complex," says Day. "The studded belt that Freddie wears for Live Aid, for example, comprises two different sets of studs. And the vest has a particular shape. Rami Malek was a joy to work with and so attentive to detail. We made 15 vests for him for those scenes, and he pointed out just a few days before shooting that the vest's neckline wasn't quite low enough. So we had to cut and resew all 15 but that half inch made an enormous difference to the costume's authenticity. Also, we reproduced the cartoon on the shirt John Deacon wears in the scene to make it exactly right. We sourced Freddie's Wranglers from America and asked Adidas to reproduce the boxing boots. It was fun but also challenging!"

The "I Want To Break Free" video, which sees the band in drag, was one of the most anticipated scenes of the whole film. Day and his team scoured the country for all the outfits, from the negligee Brian May wears to Freddie's plastic skirt, and made many of the clothes and accessories. "We found a boater that matched the one Roger Taylor wears round his neck and had some hat ribbon printed up the same color."

As for the show-stopping party that Freddie hosts at Garden Lodge, Day took an outfit that has become iconic--the crown and ermine-trimmed, red velvet cape--and combined it with a military jacket and leather trousers that were also a signature Mercury look. "We wanted him to be the king of his party," says Day.

For the party guests, Day scoured images from New York's legendary disco Studio 54 and designed an array of outrageous costumes with references to the 1970s nightclub scene, punk, gay culture, drag and the underground fetish scene.

An extraordinary note is that no costume was worn more than once.

"I don't think I've ever done as many fittings on any film ever before," says Day. "We've got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of costumes, one bus for just the four band members! And something in the region of 8-10,000 in total, including all the extras. The story moves from one country to another, from Japan to New York to small-town America, and all those different gigs had to have a different vibe. It was great fun."

Graham King was bowled over by the costumes. "Julian Day did a phenomenal job," says the producer. "He has an amazing reputation, and he was so passionate to be on this. He had the right sensibility to dress this film, and he knew the period. When you make a film and everyone on that set is doing it for the passion of the storytelling, you feel that."

Working closely with Day was hair and makeup designer Jan Sewell. She was thrilled to be able to tell the story of Freddie Mercury's journey visually from 1970 to Live Aid.

Sewell's work was made easier with the amount of visual material in the public domain. "There are so many videos where you can see all Freddie's different looks," she explains. "Working with the costume department, we pulled out the different looks of Freddie and the band and made a timeline. We weren't sure we'd be able to show all their different hair styles. John Deacon, for instance, looked very similar quite a lot of the time, and then he had much shorter hair towards the 1980s. Brian May, of course, has kept his hairstyle to this day, apart from having it a bit shorter or longer. But Freddie had so many looks. So we had to decide which we thought were the strongest looks."

Sewell began with his mid-1970s clean-shaven look of very short fringe with long hair, moved through several more looks until we end on the cropped hair and mustache of Live Aid.

There were two key areas where Sewell had to use prosthetics: Freddie's signature teeth and his aquiline nose. Sewell tested several pairs of teeth on Rami Malek to ensure they would look just right on camera. "What's so fascinating about watching Rami play Freddie is how he has absolutely captured Freddie's mannerisms," says Sewell. "Freddie was very aware of his teeth. He chose not to get them fixed even though he could have afforded it, and a lot of what he did was hiding them, which meant a lot of mouth movement. So it was very important to get the right size so that Rami felt he could act with them and be able to do those mannerisms."

For the nose, Sewell created a gelatin nose that was applied every day. "What it did was broaden the top part of his nose which helps to pull his eyes together a little. Rami's eyes are much bigger and, using makeup, I had to make his eyes less prominent," she says.

And then, of course, there was the multitude of wigs and false mustaches. Because Malek had just come off filming Mr. Robot, there was no time to wait for him to grow his hair, so he wears a wig in every scene, even the Live Aid crop. And as the hair got longer and then shorter, the mustache had to get heavier and lighter to balance well.

For all four actors of the band, Sewell also had to age them for the final scenes in the mid-1980s. "We used small prosthetics on all four for Live Aid to age them up--just little age lines to make it believable--and then covered that with stage makeup which they would have worn for the concert."

Sewell did extensive research to get the smallest detail just right, talking not just to Brian May and Roger Taylor but many people who toured with the band. She says: "Freddie wore black nail polish in the 1970s only on his left hand. I asked why he didn't paint his right-hand nails too. It was purely because he couldn't do it physically. It was the same with Brian, although he had white."

For the scenes with lots of extras--Freddie's Garden Lodge party and Live Aid--Sewell and her team relied on photos and video footage. "We studied the party guests closely, and there were some extraordinary looks which we managed to copy including Roman laurel crowns and togas. For Live Aid, we wanted to make sure it absolutely had the 1980s look, so there was a sea of mullets and mustaches on the men and short hair on the women. We wigged most of the extras because nowadays men have short hair mostly and women have long hair, so it took several weeks of fittings and something like 7,000 wigs to make sure it was all correct. But because the extras are such fans, when we asked the men to grow mustaches, they did!"

Working with Julian Day, Sewell came up with a complimentary makeup color palette for the female cast. "There's a big move from the beginning of the film to the end in terms of the women's make up," she says. "In the '70s there are all those lovely orange lipsticks, false eyelashes, blue and green eye tones, and the blush is a little bit orange. In the '80s, we went more for the terracotta and bronze colors."

One of the lasting memories Sewell took away from the shoot was the collaboration with the cast. "They got to know their characters so well and got so involved in the look," she recalls. "I worked very closely with Rami, and his eye is phenomenal, spot on. He would get how putting a bit more color here or shading the nose a little bit more there would make a difference. That's been the great experience for all of us."

Malek returns the compliment. "Jan Sewell is the most phenomenal makeup and hair designer. Apart from the teeth, she did incredible work around my eyes and defining the structure of my face for the different periods of his life. The makeup is that major step that helps an actor take it to that next level. Like with the costumes, makeup and hair give an actor that extra bit of confidence to get closer to inhabiting a character. I always knew I was never going to be Freddie Mercury, but the hair and makeup helped me capture his essence."

THE MUSIC

One of the key roles on the film was the music supervisor. Becky Bentham was charged with the daunting task of creating the soundtrack for the film, using both Freddie Mercury's real voice, a sound-alike and Rami Malek.

After discussing with the director and the producer, Bentham categorized each song based on whether they are an on-camera performance or a background video. Having established how much existing material is available, from backing tracks to vocals, Bentham then ended up with a list of requirements for each prerecord sessions. She then laid down all the materials needed for each play back. The pre-records were sent to the cast to practice with vocal and instrument coaches.

"For 'Bohemian Rhapsody', we were lucky to have access to all the original vocal recordings and all the original band recordings," she continues. "In addition to that, we have recorded a sound-alike for those sections where recordings don't exist, as well as Rami Malek's performances, which formed a library of materials that we then turned into a soundtrack that was as authentic as possible."

For all the singing scenes, Bentham required the actors to sing out along to the pre-recorded songs. "It's vital because it gets the movement in the throat and the facial muscles," she says.

Although it seemed like the most challenging task, the Live Aid scenes were the easiest to do, says Bentham, "because the tracks were all pre-recorded, so it was just a matter of playing them back at high volume to get the band in the right mood."

Bentham plays tribute to Malek and the rest of the cast. "It's a credit to the actors and their dedication in putting in the hours with their coaches to achieve what we've got," she says. "Ben Hardy played a little bit of drums already, so he had a framework that we were able to build on. Gwilym Lee played some guitar, and Joe Mazzello played a bit of bass. Like Rami, they all spent long hours working with the pre-records. For Rami, we recorded and filmed our sound-alike so Rami had both a sound and visual reference to ensure he had the same physicality, from body movement to the breaths he takes."

The tracks were recorded at London's legendary Abbey Road Studios. "I remember Rami walking in for our first recording session and looking up to see a picture of Queen and Freddie staring down at him! It was daunting in one way but an endorsement in another, and it really added to the experience."

LARGER THAN LIFE

Graham King has high hopes for the film and its message for the younger generation. "This is a really uplifting film," he says. "I hope that if there's anyone in the audience who is confused or being bullied or feeling like an outcast, they would take to heart what Mary says to Freddie in the film: 'Don't you see who you can be? Anything you want to be.' That's a very important message in today's world."

But it's also the music that King knows will capture the audience's imagination. "I go to see a film because I want to feel it, not just see it. For me it was always, if we can get 500 people in a theater clapping and singing along to those powerful anthems that they grew up with and that are a part of their lives, then that's a film experience. And I think we've done just that. I want people to come out of this film and hug the person they're next to and sing along with Queen songs. 'We Will Rock You,' 'We Are The Champions,' 'Bohemian Rhapsody'--all these songs are larger-than-life and can't help but put a smile on your face. I wanted to continue the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, to show a younger generation who Freddie Mercury was, how the band survived through times, how the music business has changed, what it was like to make a record in those days, what it was like for four guys to meet and create that special sound. Freddie always called the band his family. And I think there's no better time in the world to pass on the idea that we are all part of one family, no matter who we are or where we come from."

Rami Malek agrees: "I hope that everyone leaves the film as inspired by Freddie's story as I am, feeling confident, feeling inspired. That they know it's okay to be who you are. I hope that they can sing as loudly as he can and own every truth of theirs, and not feel like they have to hide anything, but that they can just be, and enjoy exactly who they were meant to be."

TOP

Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
Contact CinemaReview.com

2018 9,  All Rights Reserved.

Google

Find:  HELP!

Google