The ABC reports that around four minutes of footage has been cut for the Queen biopic for its Chinese release, with all content dealing with frontman Freddie Mercury’s sexuality left on the cutting room floor.
Bohemian Rhapsody glosses over ‘dark truths’
The film, which has grossed over a billion dollars at the box office worldwide and picked up four Academy Awards, already faced criticism from some Western audiences over a perceived “straightwashing” of queer Queen singer Mercury, who died of AIDS-related illness in 1991.
The new, Chinese edit of the film further reduces those references to Mercury’s sexuality — removing some scenes that are integral to the film’s story.
Here’s what’s been cut, per ABC and CNN:
A scene in which Mercury comes out as bisexual to girlfriend Mary Austin, which leads to their breakup,
A close-up of the singer’s crotch during a BBC performance,
A scene showing the music video shoot for the single I Want To Break Free, in which all the members of Queen dressed up in drag,
A scene showing Mercury’s first meeting with romantic partner Jim Hutton,
Every mention of the word “gay” and every portrayal of two men kissing has also been edited out of the film.
“It is seriously and obviously out of context, where many scenes in the film didn’t make any sense at all,” one Chinese viewer told ABC.
It follows a similar re-edit for the film’s Malaysian release.
“Rather than homophobic, I think (China’s censors) are sexphobic,” Chinese filmmaker and LGBT activist Fan Popo told CNN. “They are probably the most conservative people in China. That’s why they are chosen for this job.”
It comes as news surfaces this week that upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman may have a gay sex scene removed before it’s even released to cinemas.
Paramount Pictures have reportedly demanded that Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher cut a love scene that shows lead actor Taron Egerton (Elton John) and Richard Madden, cast as his one-time lover and manager John Reid in bed together.
While both actors are nude, the scene is said to be “tastefully done” — but would need to be cut for the film to secure an American PG-13 rating.
“Two guys have a naked cuddle to express their love for each other and that will be reduced to a fully dressed warm hello. The world knows Elton’s gay. It’s no secret,” a source who worked on the film told the Daily Mail.