DVD Review: Hungarian Rhapsody - Queen Live In Budapest (2012)

on Thursday, November 08, 2012
'Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live In Budapest' (UK Release: 5 Nov '12) // Words: Saam Das

Queen need little introduction - a seminal British band that straddled glam and rock, as well as bringing together prog and disco, under a pop umbrella. 'Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live In Budapest' captures the band on their 1986 Magic Tour - the last to feature their late, enigmatic frontman Freddie Mercury. This DVD allows casual and dedicated fans to relive the band in their pomp, delivering hit after hit after hit.

The concert at the Nepastadion in Budapest was significant not only for the fact it was one of the last ever Mercury-led Queen performances. It was also the first Western rock stadium concert to be staged in the country, which was largely considered as a Soviet satellite state. Here we see the performance re-mastered in high definition and 5.1 surround sound, a fitting audio-visual spectacle.

Barring a short timelapse look at the construction of the set in Budapest, the DVD launches straight into Queen's power pop, and a typically exuberant rendition of 'One Vision'. Classics such as 'Under Pressure', 'I Want To Break Free', 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'We Will Rock You' follow, with Freddie Mercury dominating the stage and driving the 80,000 strong crowd into fervour - particularly on 'Tavaszi Szél Vizet Áraszt', a Hungarian children's song specially adapted by Queen.

While this concert documentary is in some respects the Freddie Mercury show, there are plenty of shots of the other band members demonstrating their flair and talent - most notably, Brian May who gets to be centrepiece for an extended guitar solo, interspliced with footage of him in a hot-air balloon. It feels strangely appropriate, matching the larger-than-life nature of the band.

Other tracks are also occasionally intercut with archive footage - screaming fans greeting Queen, Freddie examining art, the band drinking and chatting away. The relentless showmanship feels wearisome at times and certain songs lull, making these contrasting segments a welcome distraction, providing a brief insight into the relative normality of a band otherwise celebrated in a god-like fashion.

The one and only DVD special feature is a 25 minute documentary, 'A Magic Year'. Following the 12 months after their iconic Live Aid performance, the talking heads-led piece is arguably the highlight of the DVD - with a heavy focus on their their writing and recording process, including discussion of their 'Highlander' soundtrack, and their hugely attended European tour.

The Hungarian elements of 'A Magic Year' provide historical and political context to the DVD concert performance and would perhaps have been better served spliced into the main feature. 'Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live In Budapest' may be limited in some respects but it also ably demonstrates the incredible Queen phenomenon vividly.


'Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live In Budapest' is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and deluxe editions which also offer an accompanying double CD. Available to purchase at amazon.co.uk.

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