Sunday, October 28, 2012
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: FREDDIE MERCURY - THE GREAT PRETENDER (DVD & Blu-Ray)
Now, in case you think you don't have much interest in Mercury's spotty solo work, there's actually some interesting stories with it, and also it goes far more in-depth into his off-stage life, plus his AIDS-related passing. There's film footage of his infamous 1985 birthday party, a near Roman orgy that would make Elton John blush. We see him in the discos of New York and Munich in the early 80's, when he living life to its largest. At the same time, we're told the other side of his personality showed that he was a shy, private person for the most part, driven by art and work. It was that side of him that drove him to search out the solo projects that were quite different than the Queen work.
The centerpiece of the 90-minute doc is the unlikely partnership he forged with opera diva Montserrat Caballe of Barcelona. The famous soprano was his favourite singer, and when word got back to her, she happily agreed to a project that saw Mercury writing an entire album for them, and bravely creating a rock-opera hybrid. Caballe, interviewed at length, clearly loved her friend, and the fact the project became a success of sorts is a grand part of the story.
What moves this along though, is the storyline tracing his illness and eventual death. Using available interviews, and recollections of his intimate friends, we get a much broader picture of the stoic and brave journey he went through in the decade, and how his determination to live life to the fullest made him truly happy. In the end, it also made him face his passing with great dignity. As he hoped in statements to friends, he was never boring, and because of that, this part of his life is just as interesting as his time with Queen.