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A solo overview of an extraordinary rock n' roll front man

Freddie Mercury - "The Great Pretender"
DVD Review

(Real World/ Eagle Rock Entertainment)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
October 6, 2012
Freddie Mercury

Review by Andy Argyrakis

After the richly detailed and endlessly fascinating Queen documentary "Days Of Our Lives" hit streets at the beginning of 2012, it only made sense to follow-up with a solo spotlight on its late great leader Freddie Mercury. This sequel of sorts features several rare archive interviews with the singer himself, along with Queen mates Brian May and Roger Taylor, "Barcelona" collaborator Montserrat Caballe, plus a series of behind the scenes associates who help paint a picture of the subject's larger than life personality.

One of the most interesting morsels comes just a few minutes into the program when several still shots of the flamboyant front man and Michael Jackson are shown over musical snippets of their unreleased duet "There Must Be More To Life Than This," which begs to be heard in its entirety some day. Unfortunately, there's way too much emphasis on the "Barcelona" album, his curious but generally self-indulgent collaboration with the aforementioned opera star, though she does shed some unique insight on their unexpected creative process and personal interactions. Perhaps the most sobering moment comes when Caballe recounts being forbidden by the singer from kissing him out of fear the AIDS virus might spread.

Even so, there's still plenty of other amusing antidotes and scenes spanning Mercury's colorful costumes, video outtakes and nightlife indulgences (mainly a decadent 39th birthday party). Though film clips of news broadcasts and comments from grieving band mates help shed some light on his legacy, it seems shortsighted that no current artists influenced by his work are interviewed. As a result of that oversight and the unnecessarily lengthy emphasis on the "Barcelona" period, "The Great Pretender" isn't perfect, but it's certainly a competent place to start learning about the otherwise fascinating subject.

Related articles:

Queen - Greatest Video Hits - DVD review
Queen - Rock Montreal + Live Aid - DVD review

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