Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shades of glory

Media Moment: Blades of Glory
Queen-related: Features Flash’s Theme

In my June 11, 2009 blog entry on Flesh Gordon, I commented on my surprise in hearing Flash’s Theme being featured in Blades of Glory. Specifically I wondered who on the production team would have opted for an obscure Queen song to highlight the climactic pairs’ performance with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder; a Queen song that wasn’t a big hit in North America. So why choose it when there are lots of other, more well known sci-fi themes they could have gone with?

Well, the movie was on TV again last night so I had another look it. It struck me that in addition to the Flash bit near the end of the film, there are a few other traces of Queen-related items throughout the movie.

For instance, the movie starts with an establishing shot of Jon Heder’s character showing some promise as a kid skating around a frozen pond. What I missed the first time I saw the film was that the song playing over this scene is Sarah Brightman’s Time To Say Goodbye from her album of the same name. It’s also the album that features a cover of Who Wants To Live Forever.

Later, when Will Ferrell’s character makes an appearance, it’s to the Billy Squier song The Stroke — a song and album, as we know, produced by Mack who also produced Queen’s early 80s stuff. And, of course, Billy Squier himself speaks at length of his shared stage time with Queen back in the day.

I could also mention that the finale takes place in Montréal, which is the city featured on their Queen Rock Montréal (aka We Will Rock You) concert film. This concert also has one of the few live performances of Flash’s Theme and The Hero. So to feature the song and to have it take place in Montréal is an interesting bit of coincidence, in my opinion.

I hate to be the one to point out the white elephant in the room, but there’s a latent homosexual overtone to both the skating routine — that is, the skaters’ reactions to many of the moves each had to make on one another — and to Freddie’s lifestyle and reputation.

Maybe there’s more to the story here, too. If a skating pair consisting of two men can achieve greatness against public perception, maybe this is a subtle echo of Queen’s finding greatness despite being unfairly branded a “gay” band. And then to pick a Queen song that speaks to a future (i.e., science fiction) that one of the skating judges deemed to be symbolic of where skating was headed, was a good choice. All bases are covered.

This film is a good example of why I’m so intrigued with the pop culture references to Queen that keep popping up lately. If we add up all of the connections to Queen to be found in this movie (as mentioned in this blog), I think we’d be hard-pressed to find a similar set of connections to, say, The Rolling Stones in a single movie like we do here.

I’ll admit, my knowledge of Queen trivia is greater than it is for The Kinks, for example, so I’m speaking from a biased perspective. However, maybe I should take a more critical look at movies that feature other bands’ songs and then see if I can find the six (or less) degrees of separation with that band and other elements of the film.

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