Shot in 1986 and only just now remastered for release in the West, this documentary captures Queen in all their glory both on stage and behind the scenes. The film is divided into two parts, opening with a 27-minute exploration of the band in the "magic year" after its triumphant Live Aid performance, during which they recorded an album, scored the adventure movie The Highlander and planned a massive European tour.
Then we cut to their concert in Budapest, their first performance in Hungary, which drew 80,000 fans from throughout the Eastern Bloc. When Freddie Mercury takes the stage, the crowd goes wild, and he holds them in rapturous attention all the way through. He even performs some Hungarian folk music along the way, but they're far more interested in the band's big hits like Radio Gaga and Bohemian Rhapsody, which they sing along with loudly.
Queen rarely gave interviews, so the backstage material in this film is a fascinating glimpse into these musicians, who are all self-effacing and rather cheeky. Mercury even starts flirting with the interviewer, noting that he's not worried about struggling to connect with the foreign crowd. "I always win an audience," he says with a mischievous grin. And during the concert section of the film, we also get to see them getting out and about in Budapest, seeing the sites, meeting locals and generally clowning around.
Mercury was born to be on stage, and his quiet off-stage manner is a striking contrast to the strutting, mesmerising performer. Queen's larger-than-life music is clearly designed to be played in massive stadium gigs like this one, and they're thrilling to watch as captured by Hungary's state film corporation using 17 cameras and then remastered in hi-def with surround sound. Their intensity and skill send chills down the spine. So it's a little frustrating that there's just over an hour of music here - we could easily watch twice as much.
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Director: Janos Zsombolyai
Producer: George Mihaly