The epic and operatic Bohemian Rhapsody – the signature song by the legendary British rock band Queen – is one of the best-selling singles of all time, and has become ingrained into popular culture like few other musical works from the previous century. On the occasion of the song’s 40th anniversary, the entertaining and informative documentary Inside the Rhapsody tracks the origins and fulfilment of its creation.
Lead singer Freddie Mercury, though long deceased, figures most prominently in the band’s enduring legacy. The surviving band members all attest to Mercury’s unique and complex artistry, particularly as it related to the construction of their signature song.
The fullest stretch of the film, and the major highlight that makes it a must-see occurs as pianist Brian May sits in the studio and reveals the original tracks of the song, and provides a master class on the recording and producing process by dissecting each sonic layer. In the process, the viewer gains a sense of a musician’s perception of his own art. At the time of the song’s recording, technology had yet to allow for the manipulation and elimination of performance glitches.
As described by May, these subtle faults (which are largely undetectable by a layperson’s ears) give the recording a human dimension that would otherwise be sorely missed. To be sure, one of the factors which contribute to the song’s continued appeal is that it contains all the pulsating vitality of a live performance.
Alternately aggressive and elegant, Bohemian Rhapsody was an entirely original presence amongst the chewing gum disco tunes of the day. Its endurance has proven unparalleled since the time of its initial release. In fact, as shown in the late stages of the film, Bohemian Rhapsody stands atop the biggest selling British singles of all time, outnumbering legendary artists such as The Beatles, John Lennon, Elton John and Madonna.
Utilizing an archive of in-studio and on-stage footage, and insight into the promotional video which inadvertently served as a precursor to the MTV generation, Inside the Rhapsody is sure to be a delight for even the most hardened fans of Queen or for those who simply appreciate the magic and artistry of musical expression.