As the average median income of Chinese citizens has grown over the past decade, the world’s largest country has become a growing market and potential revenue source for Hollywood films, though market penetration has not been such a straightforward task. A limited number of western films are approved to release in China each year, and the bureaucratic process can be a bit daunting.
While some films have greased the wheels by featuring Chinese actors and settings — Transformers: Age of Extinction, for example, was filmed in China — other movies have an uphill battle ahead of them, especially if they feature content that the Chinese government is not too fond of.
Enter Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning film which chronicles the life of Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek), the frontman for British band Queen. Last week, as reported by The Inquisitr, the film was released in China, with a handful of edits and cuts made to appease the Chinese government.
This new version of the film has been heavily censored, with all references to Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality and his AIDS diagnosis being removed. As you might imagine, this has caused numerous problems with the film’s narrative, introducing a handful of plot holes and unanswered questions for Chinese audiences to grapple with.
As reported by IndieWire, numerous scenes and pivotal moments from the film have been re-cut and edited, leaving audiences without vital information and context with which to understand the movie’s narrative.
For example, when a reporter asks Mercury about his “sexual orientation,” during a scene involving a press conference, the subtitle has been changed to “sex life.” Another scene involving Freddie and his girlfriend Mary has been largely retooled. The moment when Freddie tells Mary he’s bisexual — and her subsequent response, where she replies that he is gay — has been removed.
While these edits might seem minor, there are plenty of more important plot points which have been cut out. For example, the scene where Mercury tells his bandmates about his AIDS diagnosis has been partly muted, so that audience members cannot hear the name of the disease.
In the original cut of the film, Mercury’s boyfriend, Jim Hutton, was introduced in a scene where Mercury grabs Hutton’s crotch. This moment has been cut from the film, but as IndieWire points out, this leaves the audience confused when Hutton shows up in a later scene. Similarly, any scene involving a kiss with either Mercury, Hutton, or band manager Paul Prenter has also been excised.