Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender [Blu-ray]
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Freddie Mercury was one of the most charismatic, complex and fascinating characters in British rock music. The story of Queen is a well known one but this new film focuses on Freddie Mercury and the solo projects he worked on outside of Queen. Using extensive archive footage of interviews with Freddie Mercury, concerts, video shoots and personal material, much of it previously unseen, along with new interviews with friends and colleagues, a portrait emerges of a man who was very different to his flamboyant onstage public persona. A generous, caring, thoughtful man with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a genuine passion for music. Freddie Mercury touched the lives of millions through his career both with Queen and as a solo performer and this new program will delight and inform his legions of fans. / Bonus Features:
Freddie Mercury goes solo / Extended interview with Montserrat Caballé / The making of Barcelona: Special Edition 2012 .
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So did the film live up to my expectations? No, in fact- it far succeeded them. I'd go as far as to say that this is actually superior to the Queen documentary, as a lot of this is unseen footage, and the story concentrates on certain aspects of Freddie's life that hasn't really been covered before. The Queen story is a fascinating one, but has been exhausted over the years, offering very little in the way of something new. This, on the other hand is full of fascinating material, and goes a long way towards humanising a great man. What it ultimately does though, is to make him seem more complicated, more complex and mysterious than ever before.
With lots of footage of Freddie offstage, and off-guard the film basically covers the solo years of the mid to late eighties, beginning with him discovering and falling in love with dance music in the gay clubs of New York and Munich. Based around an interview that Freddie gave to David Wiggs in which he talks about his love life, his career and his views on the future of the band at that point.
I could go on forever, but will wrap this up by saying that the pieces about his relationship with the risible Paul Prenter, his duets with Mosterrat Caballe and Michael Jackson, and his stint with the Royal Ballet are just some of the highlights here. The black and white footage of him on the set of the 'Days Of Our Lives' music video is what really seals it for me though. Close to the end of his life, but ever the showman- these few clips look wonderful and show a softer, more reflective side of his huge personality. Sterling stuff indeed.
The blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic. The HD footage of outtakes from the video for 'I Want To Break Free' was thrilling, and I'm looking forward to the blu-ray re-releases of all the old Queen videos that must be surely forthcoming. Now that Rhys Thomas (who has done a fantastic job piecing all of this together) has said that there will be no more documentaries I should imagine that a lot of that cut footage from those old video shoots will surface on some Greatest Flix package in the future. Here's hoping.
So, with stories of llamas in studios, band in-fighting and lavish excess all-around I must say that this has been a thrilling addition to the Mercury canon, and though it seems that all areas have been exhausted I am hopeful that other aspects of his career (the mid-to-late 70's period for a start) will be covered in the future. For now though- this is an exhaustive and thrilling look at an enigma.
For a new FM/Queen fan, it will be good. For a longtime fan, it was just ok.