Judge Victor Valdivia isn't champion of his living room, much less the world.
Our review of Queen: Days of Our Lives (Blu-ray), published February 15th, 2012, is also available.
The definitive documentary of the world's greatest rock band.
Queen: Days of Our Lives is a packaging of a two-part BBC documentary on Queen that aired in 2010, and it's a fairly comprehensive and revealing one. Queen has never really had its story told in such detail before, except in a couple of books, most notably Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock by Phil Sutcliffe. Even then, however, there are some remarkable stories and quotes here, as well as some great footage that has never been seen before. It may not be as complete as it could have been, but then it's possible that we'll never get to see the story told as completely as we might like. This may be the closest fans will ever get.
The biggest absence, as is the case with every Queen release since singer Freddie Mercury's death in 1991, is that of original bassist John Deacon. This is not a small omission: Deacon wrote some of Queen's biggest hits, such as "Another One Bites the Dust" and "You're My Best Friend." Deacon was particularly hit hard by Mercury's death; apart from the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, Deacon has withdrawn from the music industry and no longer performs, writes songs, or gives interviews. His perspective on the band, particularly as writer, would have been immensely fascinating but he declined to participate, making this feel incomplete.
Nonetheless, despite that omission, it's still a surprisingly revealing documentary. If it shortchanges some of Queen's earlier years a bit (mainly the pre-"Bohemian Rhapsody" period), it does have some fascinating stories. Guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, and various producers, critics, and journalists all tell the band's story, mixed in with rare footage. It's the rare footage that's remarkable, since most of it is even more illuminating than the interviews. There is much behind-the-scenes footage of the band shooting its videos in the '80s and early '90s that tell the band's story more graphically than any interview could. You can see the band shooting the video for "Radio Ga Ga" (from 1984's The Works) and see Mercury, in his prime, laughing joking, and giving directions. Later, there's footage of the band shooting the video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" (from 1991's Innuendo, released only a few months before Mercury's death) and the difference is shocking. Mercury is gaunt, pale, and stricken, and his directions are much less about vanity and more about preserving his strength. There's no more painful and illustrative depiction of Mercury's tragic end.
Indeed, Queen: Days of Our Lives is at its most interesting when discussing Queen's career in the '80s and '90s, a time when the band's popularity waned considerably in the United States (though it remained constant overseas). Because this is a BBC production, American Queen fans will find some of the stories about the band's later years completely new. For most American fans, Queen was all but invisible after the mid-'80s, so the sections on the making of such later albums as The Miracle (1989) are especially worth seeing. These sections ultimately make Days of Our Lives informative, even if you think you already know Queen's story.
Technically, the disc is solid. The anamorphic transfer is good, although some of the archival footage shows its age. The stereo mix is loud as well. The extras consist of 21 minutes of deleted scenes and seven new music videos for such songs as "Radio Ga Ga" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" using the previously unreleased footage.
In any event, Queen: Days of Our Lives is a good addition to Queen's sizable DVD catalog. Fans will find some unreleased gems in the new footage and interviews, and it also serves as a good introduction to newcomers who may not know much about Queen's story. It also makes a good companion to Queen's previous career retrospective, the 1995 VHS release Champions of the World. Though that one did have the participation of Deacon, this one is more up-to-date and thus adds more to the story than fans might have known. Recommended.
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