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Queen - Made In Heaven:
The Films

directors: Richard Heslop, Simon Pummell, Nichola Bruce, Mark Szasza, Chris Rodley, Bernard Rudden, and Jim Gillespie

55 minutes (E) 1996 widescreen ratio 16:9
Wienerworld/BFI DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 1/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
Don't Stop Me Now, Killer Queen, The Bicycle Song, and Bohemian Rhapsody were amongst the numbers that led us into an unquestionable position that the progressive rock outfit Queen were bent sooner to the creative right than the wrong. A little into the 1980s and the experimentation continued though along flatter lines. Weak anthems filled the remaining life of the band, and with Freddie Mercury's death... a time for retrospection. Was it me, had I missed the later exhibition of their talent, or did they devote themselves to being naff? If the answer was needed then at least, and about the only positive thing that can be said about this release, the evidence is presented in no more than the 55 minute running time of this package. The deterioration of the music ran parallel with that of Mercury's health, the energy and the humour all spent, a back catalogue to die for, so why not die, the band creatively and lead singer literally. This final collection of songs is a morbid dribble of vocals and lame rock. If only it was half-baked but the sounds are devoid of the mildest distraction... the mimicry of inglorious mid-1980s anthems as if that was the new start, false hopes soaring nowhere. The band chose not to spin out promo-collages of happier times to back up the new songs, could not perform live to present the songs and neither appear in films without their Searlesque masthead, and so, following little deliberation they proposed film school students be put to commission for a short series of films to support the half-tunes. The band members stopped thinking a long time ago.
   This dismal disc is the final nail in the hands of Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor sharing the role of Judas, anything to sell their rotten musical, We Will Rock You. No cast and crew of a West End production has made so many charitable (sic!) appearances in an effort to remind people it is running. What more could they do, what more do you have, may have asked Robert De Niro, who's Tribeca went feet first into We Will Rock You as their introductory foray into the world of theatre and with the dodgiest musical since Twang! Well, we did have these short films made in 1996, may have answered the band. So out on DVD they come. Some of the disc time is spent on the gruelling extra, We Will Rock You - The Inside Story, obviously in-depth at eight minutes.
   The short films are no buried treasure either, a ragbag of concept-free excursions by quick to respond, observed to be upcoming, talent prostituting themselves for the gravitas of serving rock legends no matter how numbing the material they were left to work with. In a world in which Michel Gondry has set a high benchmark, the minor narrative and striven limited effects of this octet doesn't cut muster. The music is often perfect for a boy band or Shania Twain covering and bears no relation to the accompanying films, often throwbacks to the early 1980s with a gay kiss thrown in for good measure to show how truly modern it is. I Was Born To Love You is one such melange, disinterested in the tune, a celebration of criminality and thuggery directed by Richard Heslop. Overjoyed, Freddie would not be. Anyone with hopes on Simon Pummell based on his early avant-garde horrors can only walk away in embarrassment at Heart Ache, a set piece weepy, with a tattooing to spice it up in no way whatsoever. Pummell got a second chance with Evolution, which has some of his trademark x-ray imagery and a display of the mobility of a robotic arm but it overstays its welcome.
   Chris Rodley's Outside In (to the song A Winter's Tale) is a beautiful photomontage of landscapes, no story, only a travelogue to lose interest in. Nichola Bruce's O (to My Life Has Been Saved) is a fast edit exercise, again saying nothing, while Mark Szasza's You Don't Fool Me has one or two striking images and is set in a nightclub where they are clearly listening to something other than a limp rock tune. Mother Love is a little exploitation film with a scary polymorph turning into a beautiful woman for the benefit of a surviving astronaut, as lame as anything the director, Jim Gillespie, has done in Hollywood since.
   Return Trip (to the song, Let Me Live) is directed by Bernard Rudden and at least has a touch of mystery in its faded surrealism, Oliver Cotton and the fulsome Lucy Cohu as a troubled couple passing through odd little situations to a fabulous Spanish backdrop. It soaks in the song, removing it rather than enhancing it or joining it. This is the only short film in this programme that I wanted to watch again.
   It is a horrible and overbearing experience in total, even down to the annoying dial-shaped menu that is cumbersome to manage and blares back the horrid opening chords of the songs as you infuriate yourself with which way is down on the circle. An insulting cash-in that you would throw out if it came with a Saturday paper.
   (More interesting is the fact the US Army played its troops into Iraq to We Will Rock You when Brian May was opposed to the war (good on him). We have yet to hear what action on this abusage of their music he intends to take. Nor whether he offered them Another One Bites The Dust for the return journey. And Hammer film fans, your return attention to Roger Taylor in I Want To Break Free, please. Can it be more than a coincidence that Queen began around the time Yutte Stensgard did her vanishing act? She's back on the scene now, the convention circuit, some say. Taylor has more time on his hands these days... I rest my case.)
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