Australian Council on Children and the Media

Bohemian Rhapsody

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance recommended 13 to 15, due to adult themes, sexual references, substance use and strong coarse language.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bohemian Rhapsody
  • a review of Bohemian Rhapsody completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 5 November 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to adult themes, drug and alcohol abuse, strong sexual references, and strong language
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes, drug and alcohol abuse, strong sexual references, and strong language

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Bohemian Rhapsody
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Coarse language
Length 134 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Bohemian Rhapsody explores the journey of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and the band Queen, from humble beginnings playing gigs at college bars, to becoming one of the biggest bands of all time.  The film begins when ‘eccentric’ Indian British Parsi student, Farrokh Bulsara, meets part-time musicians Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), in 1970s England. 

As the band grows in success, Farrokh, now Freddie, begins a relationship with long-time friend Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), despite battling with his own sexuality.  The success of Queen throws Freddie headfirst into a world of sex, drugs, and parties, which leads to a growing detachment from his band mates, friends, and family, and contributes to a developing substance abuse problem. Freddie is pushed further away from Queen when he attempts to pursue a solo career and his life begins to spiral downward until he is diagnosed with AIDS. 

After an intervention from Mary, Freddie reconciles with his band mates, family, and friends, before playing one of the greatest performances of Queen’s career, the iconic Live Aid concert in 1985. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Sexuality; family; drug and alcohol abuse/dependency; AIDS; death

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Freddie shoves Roger in the face – he is not hurt
  • Freddie threatens to kill his manager if he does not exit a car – It is implied that Freddie is high on drugs at the time.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The film is loud – the frequent yelling and clear displays of anger are likely to worry young children
  • Freddie coughs up blood because he has AIDS – this may disturb young viewers

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Freddie’s father makes clear his disappointment in, and disdain for, his son’s choices

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing that is likely to disturb this age group, although there are issues that parents may wish to discuss with children

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Stoli vodka
  • Aston Martin car

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Frequent passing references to sex in dialogue between main characters, These include derogatory comments about both men and women – e.g., Freddie says to a female reporter: “Does that thing between your legs bite?”
  • Freddie jokes that he wants Mary to tell her father that she is an “epic shag”
  • The camera holds focus on Freddie’s crotch during a music video segment
  • It is implied that Freddie slept with a number of men (including strangers)

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Freddie lies on top of Mary and kisses her deeply on the mouth
  • Freddie lies in bed with Mary – it is implied they slept together (they are not clothed, but are covered by sheets).
  • Freddie smacks and pinches various characters bottoms (both male and female)
  • Freddie and various male and female characters kiss intimately on the mouth on a number of occasions
  • Women (and men) are scantily dressed at various parties
  • Freddie attends a gay club where men dance intimately with each other and some are dressed in BDSM-style leather clothing

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Alcohol – vodka, beer, wine, and various spirits – are drunk regularly and often excessively (including by Freddie)
  • Characters smoke cigarettes regularly
  • Pills are taken by Freddie – He is accused of being ‘high’ on a number of occasions

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bollocks
  • Shit; Bullshit; Shitfaced
  • Shut up
  • Wanker
  • Arse
  • Taking the piss
  • Twat
  • Bitchy
  • Fag
  • Fucking
  • Bloody

In a nutshell

Bohemian Rhapsody is a semi-fictionalised biopic about Freddie Mercury and the band Queen, directed by Bryan Singer.  It is an exciting and foot-stomping film that is likely to entertain teenagers and adults, but is not recommended for children under 13. There are strong adult themes exploring substance abuse, sex, sexuality, and AIDS, which are unlikely to be properly understood by younger children.  Parents may wish to discuss these issues with the 13 to 15 age group.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship and family as important support networks in one’s life
  • Being true to yourself
  • Sharing responsibility and successes with group members

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Homophobia
  • Safe sexual practices
  • The real-life implications and consequences of revenge porn
  • Racism – There is frequent use of the term “paki” to describe Freddie’s Indian heritage (despite him not being Pakistani).

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