Today: February 27, 2024

Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live In Budapest ‘86’

By – Matt Isard – Music takes centre stage in this digitally re-mastered

By – Matt Isard

Music takes centre
stage in this digitally re-mastered concert movie of Queen’s 1986 Magic Tour.

The 115-minute long feature comprises a 25-minute documentary chronicling the
year between performing at LiveAid and ending their Magic Tour, followed by 90
minutes of one of Queen’s greatest shows: their performance in Népstadion,
Budapest. With this concert Queen became the first Western rock band to perform
behind the Iron Curtain, making history in front of 80,000 fans. The film shows
the full glory of Queen: their showmanship, their memorable songs and their
extraordinary talent, in such a way that makes you question the so-called
artists we allow to reach the number one spot in this modern era.

The starting documentary gives an inside view of the events
leading up to this historic concert in Budapest, using archive footage from
interviews with the band, rehearsals and clips on the road during the Magic
Tour to give the audience some insight into the band’s dynamic. Some of the
footage used has never been seen before and it is all digitally re-mastered to
give clear sound and visual quality.

Overall the documentary does work but it lacks any human
depth. It shows the interesting creative dynamic between the group and how each
song is created. The catalyst for making the A Kind of Magic album, their fourteenth,
was that it was going to be the soundtrack behind Russell Mulcahy’s film
Highlander. Each band member pens a song and tells us their inspiration behind
it. This small insight into the creative side of Queen is fascinating, as are
all the clips of the band in rehearsal. However, the documentary falls short of
revealing any hidden depths within the band. Nothing is shown of the band’s
hopes and fears, or any of the challenges they may have been facing at the
time. Instead, it just concentrates on the music and leaves audiences wanting
to know the more human side of Queen.

The most interesting part of the documentary is seeing Freddie Mercury walking around full of
life. The documentary shows a side to Mercury that many new Queen fans may not
have experienced. However, there is a somber element to every shot of Mercury
because the audience knows that the Magic Tour is his last tour and just five
years afterwards he will die of an AIDS-related illness. Small lines such as
‘If I’m still alive I’ll come back [to Budapest]’ strike an odd, grave note
when you realise that Mercury won’t return. Again however, the documentary
doesn’t dwell much on the deeper issues surrounding Mercury but instead focuses
on his lighter, more playful side, which is a shame.

Once the documentary is over the main show can begin. Since
the concert was attracting such attention at the time, people from all across Eastern
bloc flooded to Budapest; the Hungarian authorities and film industry brought
together the country’s top cameramen and technicians to film everything. It is
their original footage that makes up the film, though with some digital modifications. The entire concert just blows you away.
Mercury’s voice is strong and pitch perfect, while Brian May, Roger Taylor, and
John Deacon play a perfect set. Included in the track list are all the
favourites such as I Want to Break Free, A Kind of Magic, Under Pressure, Radio
Ga Ga, and, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are the Champions. Fans of the
band could not ask for a greater set list and Queen delivers it all spectacularly.

The film shows why Queen’s music will live forever. Modern
day equivalents just can’t live up to their legacy. Madonna, the Queen of Pop,
played a concert to 54,000 people in Hyde Park and got a lukewarm reception.
Queen performed to 80,000 and had the entire audience in a frenzy. The film
brilliantly captures both the hype that is Queen but also shows why the band
fully deserves the hype. Although
it may not shed any new light on the band as people, it is the perfect film for
any fan of their music and will likely help create a new generation of Queen
lovers.

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