The Great Pretender (Video 2012) Poster

(2012 Video)

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7/10
Delivers on a difficult topic
Nozz27 December 2013
Can a person have bigger teeth offstage than on stage? It seems Freddie Mercury gave very few interviews, and this documentary keeps going back to the same one. In it, Mercury's accent, gestures, and even face are scarcely reminiscent of the character he played on stage. But that's the main point of the movie, and of its title. Like most such documentaries, this one doesn't include complete songs; but it reminds us how many well- remembered hits Mercury accomplished while-- according to the film-- caring less for them than for the constant pursuit of the next, more ambitious project. It is insistent in its understanding of Mercury's behavior as a child of his times, reminding us that the idea of free love without consequences did not give up to the fear of AIDS without a strong fight. I'd say you don't have to be a fan of Mercury's music (I'm not) in order to be impressed by this tribute.
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7/10
Mixed feelings
Andy Boughey22 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
As you read reviews on this production, you have to remember that most (if not all) of us writing never actually "knew" the man, but I have to begin this review by saying, that which I do know, and have learned, watched and read, tells me that this is a very unbalanced program. Having listened to their music from the very beginning, been fortunate enough to see them in concert in 1980, and as a fan seen, heard and read too many articles to list here, I think the documentary gives a very poor representation - those with little knowledge of the man, or the band may come away from this thinking he was self absorbed, spoiled, arrogant and a bit of a jerk, and that's a real shame. I also don't know how you can breeze through Queen's early library in a 5 minute montage and then spend 15 minutes talking about Freddies sexual proclivities, and the gay scenes in New York, and around the World. The program focuses, for the most part on Freddie's solo career attempts, the disastrous (in terms of sales) Bad Guy album, later The Great Pretender, and lastly his collaboration with Montserrat Caballe on the Barcelona album. I'll make a personal observation here, that way too much time is spent on the Barcelona project, as some have already said, perhaps to coincide with the re-release of the album, this documentary almost is an advert for that release. There are some great on camera interviews, a lot of previously unseen footage, a piece on Freddie performing with the Royal Ballet, and even the unreleased collaboration with Michael Jackson is discussed - imagine how much that would sell for today if it was dug up and released??

What this documentary showed me was what a complex man Freddie was, almost a tortured artist, opera singer, ballet dancer, writer, poet and lover all rolled into a rock star, who at times fell victim to his own success. What it didn't show was the full picture. For me Freddie was a great showman, probably one of THE greatest frontmen, and in my mind, no band ever performed better to big stadium audiences. I personally could care less about his personal life, the hedonism of the 70's and 80's may seem shocking to people watching now in 2013, but I was always more interested in his music.

Brian May said of Freddie that he was " A Lover of Life, a Singer of Songs" and these words are carved on his statue on the shore of Lake Geneva. Whatever you take away from this documentary, take it with a pinch of salt, and remember you have only seen about 20% of the full picture.
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