Chinese Film Advocates Aren’t Fond Of Bohemian Rhapsody’s Censorship

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

Bohemian Rhapsody is undeniably one of the biggest hits of the last year. Bryan Singer's Freddie Mercury biopic may have had some controversy surrounding it, but the musical blockbuster ultimately made a ton of money at the box office, and was an Awards Season favorite. Unfortunately, some controversy continues, especially as the project was brought to China for the first time.

In order for Bohemian Rhapsody to hit theaters for Chinese moviegoers, the movie was edited down, with scenes and dialogue regarding Freddie Mercury's sexuality cut. It's a change that drew criticism online, especially as certain moviegoers already thought the movie didn't focus on Mercury's queerness enough. And now film advocates in China are responding as well.

LGBT advocate and cinephiles Peng Yanzi recently spoke to the Associated Press about the choice to edit down Bohemian Rhapsody, and what it did to the movie. The report was:

The cut scenes really affect the movie. The film talks about how (Mercury) became himself, and his sexuality is an important part of becoming who he was.

Aside from ignoring an important aspect of the subject of Bohemian Rhapsody, it looks like these new edits may have affected the film overall. Freddie Mercury's journey in the biopic was about music and self-discovery. And cutting out his coming out process means that a big aspect of that narrative was absent from Bohemian Rhapsody.

Another Chinese moviegoer and LGBT advocate addressed the changes to Bohemian Rhapsody, and how the editing affected the quality of the overall movie. They said:

This kind of deletion weakens his gay identity. It’s a bit disrespectful to his real experience and makes the character superficial. There is no growth and innermost being of him.

Bohemian Rhapsody might not have been a gay love story, but Freddie Mercury's sexuality is the unspoken elephant in the room for most of the biopic. Still, there are a few extremely poignant scenes that occur later in the film, as Mercury's starpower is on the rise. His relationship with girlfriend Mary Austin was shown slowly dissolving, and eventually Lucy Boynton's character opens the dialogue about his sexuality. That scene is one of many to get the cut for the Chinese release, and it appears the movie is worse for it.

As a reminder, you can check out that scene below.

The above sequence is one of the most powerful and emotional in the entirety of Bohemian Rhapsody. In fact, it's hard to even imagine a version of the film lacking this plot line, and this powerful moment between the two real-life figures.

It should be interesting to see how Bohemian Rhapsody ultimately performs overseas. There's obviously a ton of hype around the project, after taking so many trophies. But will the new edit ruin it? We'll have to see. In the meantime, be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.