The Great Pretender (DVD)
By David Chiu
One of the greatest singers in rock and roll history, Queen’s Freddie Mercury lived life to the utmost heights through his trademark extravagance and flamboyance. But offstage, Mercury was very private and shy– as told in a new documentary about the singer directed by Rhys Thomas. Featuring recent interviews with surviving Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor, manager Jim Beach, personal assistant Peter Freestone as well as archival footage of Mercury, The Great Pretender documents the singer’s solo music career in the ‘80s. It begins with with the Mr. Bad Guy album, which unfortunately didn’t set album sales on fire (how could it be when you’re in one of the most successful bands of all time?); and goes through the artistic triumph of Barcelona, which marked an unlikely collaboration with opera singer Montserrat Caballe; one of the interesting highlights on the DVD is a snippet of a duet between Mercury and Michael Jackson during the ‘80s. Of course, The Great Pretender examines Mercury’s private life from his time in New York, through his loving romantic relationship with Jim Hutton, and to his brave battle with AIDS, which he succumbed to in 1991 at the age of 45. The Great Pretender does a fantastic job of portraying Mercury not only as a tremendous and passionate artist, but also as a human being who protected his privacy in a quiet, dignified manner right until the end. It’s a loving tribute to a man who has certainly made his mark on rock and roll.