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Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live In Budapest '86 (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner21/09/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 119 mins

A must-see for Queen fans, this is an exhilarating concert film/documentary that demonstrates exactly why Queen were one of the world's greatest rock bands.

What's it all about?
Directed by Janos Zsombolyai (for Hungarian state film, in 1986), Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest '86 is a concert film documenting iconic rock band Queen (lead singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon, drummer Roger Taylor) as they play their first concert behind the Iron Curtain, to a crowd of 80,000 (including fans from all over the Eastern Bloc) at Budapest's Népstadion.

The concert includes terrific performances of several of their hits and, randomly, a cover version of Tutti Frutti. The concert footage is interspersed with clips of the band members doing things in Budapest, so you get Freddie shopping for antiques, Roger Taylor going go-karting, Brian May taking a trip in a hot-air balloon and John Deacon having an amusing chat with a young British girl (here's hoping she sees this film).

The film is also preceded by A Magic Year, a 30 minute documentary (also made in the 1980s) that follows the band during the 12 months following their triumphant performance at Live Aid in July 1985. This includes brief interviews with each of the band members as they record albums, work on the soundtrack and a music video for Highlander (there's a great bit where Christopher Lambert appears to walk off the film and join the band on stage) and perform in a number of other concerts; there's also some illuminating backstage footage from the Hungarian concert.

The Good
If you're a Queen fan, this is something of a must-see (in fact, you can go ahead and add an extra star), but even if you're not, this is still a terrifically entertaining concert movie that showcases the band at the peak of their success. Mercury, in particular, is an electric presence on stage (it's fair to say the film slows down a little when it's time for Brian May's solo bits), stripping off, strutting about, wearing a crown and basically having the audience eat out of the palm of his hand – he even learns a Hungarian folk song and gets the crowd to sing along with him.

The Great
The documentary is fascinating, as each band member (none of whom sound the way you'd expect) speaks revealingly about their role within the band and how they feel about the band's current status (Deacon half-jokingly refers to a rivalry with Dire Straits). Needless to say, there's also a certain amount of hindsight-related sadness, particularly when Mercury tells a Hungarian interviewer, “If I'm still alive, we'll come back and play again”.

Worth seeing?

Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest '86 is a terrific concert film/documentary that should appeal to both fans and, well, people that don't own Queen albums alike. Hopefully, enterprising cinemas will put on sing-a-longa screenings, since you'll find yourself singing along anyway. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 19/08/2018 02:40

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