30 August 2016 – Queen’s film “Hungarian Rhapsody – Live In Budapest” was shown in selected cinemas in Canada.
On 27 July 1986 – Queen became the first act since Louis Armstrong to play in Budapest, Hungary when they played the Nepstadion (People’s Stadium) – filmed and audio recorded. Footage was also distributed and played in cinemas…..
It was a kind of magic when people of the communist Hungary found out that Queen is coming to Budapest. The world-famous band visited the country at a time when the regime did everything in its power to keep the West outside the so-called Iron Curtain.
“We like going places where it’s a challenge,” explained guitarist Brian May. Unusually for Queen, they were even prepared to lose money on the venture. “We’re doing it for a tremendous sense of job satisfaction,” claimed drummer Roger Taylor.
The concert was scheduled in the second half of Queen’s successful Magic tour, ahead of shows in France and Spain. Both the gig and Queen’s time in Budapest were filmed for the following year’s Magic: Queen In Budapest concert movie and documentary.
The tickets sold out incredibly fast and people traveled from all over the Eastern Bloc to attend, including folks from Russia.
The show was spectacular. Queen were old hands at playing stadiums, and Mercury worked every inch of the 60,000-square-foot stage. Eighty thousand people watched inside the stadium while a further 45,000 ticketless fans, some who had travelled from as far as Warsaw and Odessa, congregated outside to listen.
But conscious of the armed soldiers positioned around the arena, the audience were unsure how to react. Having already played the big hits ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ to a slightly muted response, Queen’s big breakthrough came when Mercury and May performed the traditional folk song, Tavaszi Szél Vizet Áraszt
Because no other major rock band had played a stadium date in the Eastern Bloc, Queen decided to film the gig. The concert was filmed by 17 of Hungary’s top cameramen, including the state filming corporation, MaFilm. It was also notably much cheaper to film here than in the west. The gear used (including seventeen 35mm cameras and 25 miles of film) was all the available gear in the country, and the entire operation was approved by the Hungarian government
It was an incredible concert; the majority of the crowd had probably never seen a rock band before in their lives, but they sang along with the band. They raised their hands and clapped in all the right places for ‘Radio Ga Ga,’ although most of them had probably not seen the video. The audience was enthusiastic and it was apparent they enjoyed every second of the phenomenal concert!
Not long after the show, Brian was quoted saying “It was the band’s most challenging and exhilarating gig.”
Queen left Hungary as champions. Before they departed, a journalist asked Mercury if they would ever return. “If I’m still alive,” he replied. What nobody else, including his bandmates, that the Magic tour would be his last.
Freddie Mercury once claimed that Queen were “the Cecil B DeMille of rock and roll”. The only way to test that hypothesis was to project footage of the band onto the biggest screen possible to see if they hold the attention of cinema-goers like the visionary film-maker once did. Which is exactly what Hungarian Rhapsody does, to great success. From opening number, ‘One Vision’, Live In Budapest reminds those that may have forgotten that Queen are, quite simply, one of the most important bands of the 20th Century and in Freddie Mercury, they lay claim to one of, if not, the greatest frontman of all time.
Long Live Freddie and Queen