By Ashley Lodato
Champions of the world from around the valley united in rhapsodic ecstasy over the weekend, at The Barnyard Cinema’s showings of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The film chronicles legendary rock band Queen’s rise to fame and its show-stealing performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert which, if you’re around my age, you probably remember as a seminal event in rock concert history, if for no other reason than that it joined all of our favorite bands on one stage in a stunning display of hope, humanitarianism, and hairspray.
Why rally for this film that got lukewarm reviews from critics, especially since The Barnyard Cinema seems to be feeding us a steady diet of high-quality programming, with winners as varied as “Cinema Paradiso,” “Wonder Woman” and “The Big Lebowski”? Well, for one because Methow Folk are a people not easily swayed by the opinions of others. If we cared what people like film critics thought, there’s a lot that simply wouldn’t happen around here.
Also, because it turns out that the movie is excellent, critics be damned. It’s interesting, it’s fun, it features actors who represent the four Queen band members in appearance and mannerism with eerie accuracy, and it has a soundtrack fit for a — I’ll say it — queen.
Chatting with Winthrop residents Rita and John Kurtz while waiting for the movie to start, I learned that they have a friend — Marc Martel — who provided some of the vocals for Freddie Mercury’s character in the film. And dang, the man can sing! I spent an enjoyable hour post-film watching some of Martel’s videos on YouTube, in awe of his vocal range and totally charmed by his quirky and light-hearted sense of humor.
Martel was also selected in a contest spearheaded by the surviving Queen members to perform as the late Queen frontman in The Ultimate Queen Celebration, a touring tribute concert. Unfortunately, the closest this show will get to us will be Vancouver, B.C., next May. Road trip?
Martel is quite imaginative in his videos. One of them features him singing a duet between two of his favorite singers: tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury. Martel sings both parts in sequence, complete with signature Pavarotti facial stubble when viewed from one camera angle and Mercury’s smooth face from the other side.
I learned a lot by looking around the theater on the night I saw “Bohemian Rhapsody.” First, I saw some faces that surprised me — people who I wouldn’t necessarily have pegged as rockers. I also learned a lot about Freddie Mercury that I never knew before. And finally, I learned that Queen believed that they played for the misfits and outcasts of the world, the people who felt they didn’t belong anywhere, to anyone. “We belong to them,” Freddie Mercury said. A royal sentiment, indeed.