Bohemian Rhapsody’s got a lot of problems, though one that’s drummed up a surprising amount of online vitriol is its editing, with one scene in particular becoming a source of viral fascination. Last week, we shared a video breaking down the 60 cuts spread throughout a 104-second scene where Queen meets their soon-to-be manager, John Reid. It’s frenetic, showy work that doesn’t serve the scene, and, in a new interview with The Washington Post, editor John Ottman, who won an Oscar for his work on the film, agrees.
“Whenever I see it, I want to put a bag over my head. Because that’s not my aesthetic,” he said. “If there’s ever an extended version of the film where I can put a couple scenes back, I will recut that scene!”
Ottman’s jarring editing choices were a mandate from the studio, apparently, who wanted the first act to “move swiftly.” That changed, however, after test audiences revealed they enjoyed the early scenes, leading Ottman to go back and “let them breathe more,” though he apparently didn’t have time to revisit the scene in question. We’re guessing that means the rest of the film’s first third used to be just as disorienting as the Reid scene, so let’s just all be grateful we didn’t have to endure the motion sickness that it no doubt would’ve spawned.
The piece also offers some defense for Ottman’s win, citing how the editor’s ability to string a coherent narrative from such a troubled set is a feat unto itself. “John saved this film from being a complete and utter mess, which in the hands of a lesser talented editor it would probably have been,” said Hollywood editor Aaron Yamamoto.