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Year: 1984
Director: Milos Forman

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Cast:

F. Murray Abraham (Antonio Salieri), Tom Hulce (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Elizabeth Berridge (Constanze Mozart), Simon Callow (Emanuel Schikaneder / Papageno in 'The Magic Flute'), Roy Dotrice (Leopold Mozart), Christine Ebersole (Katerina Cavalieri / Constanza in 'Abduction from the Seraglio'), Jeffrey Jones (Emperor Joseph II), Charles Kay (Count Orsini-Rosenberg), Kenny Baker (Parody Commendatore), Lisabeth Bartlett (Papagena in 'The Magic Flute'), Barbara Bryne (Frau Weber), Martin Cavina (Young Salieri (as Martin Cavani)), Roderick Cook (Count Von Strack), Milan Demjanenko (Karl Mozart), Peter DiGesu (Francesco Salieri), Richard Frank (Father Vogler), Patrick Hines (Kappelmeister Bonno), Nicholas Kepros (Archbishop Colloredo), Philip Lenkowsky (Salieri's Servant), Herman Meckler (Priest)

Storyline:

Antonio Salieri believes that Mozart's music is divine. He wishes he was himself as good a musician as Mozart so that he can praise the Lord through composing. But he can't understand why God favored Mozart, such a vulgar creature, to be his instrument. Salieri's envy has made him an enemy of God whose greatness was evident in Mozart. He is set to take revenge.

Reviews:

Amadeus is an extremely well written story, covering the last ten years of Mozart's massively prolific yet unusual life. I have read much that it paints a rather inaccurate picture of the genius's life, and yet I am not dissuaded from ranking this film as one of the greatest made. The historical problem should be addressed first, because it draws the most criticism. I would advise anyone to shut out the self-righteous whining of those people who fancy themselves as Mozart experts, when they really have little solid evidence for their assertions. History is only seen by us in fragments, be they documents or eye witness accounts. These fragments certainly do not amount to a full picture of events, and so Milos Forman and Peter Schaeffer are perfectly entitled to form their own story of genius.

This issue aside, the picture is one of fantastic colour and scale, crammed with lavish costumes and wonderful architecture. This keeps the eyes occupied, but the ears get the biggest reward. The film uses a large amount of Mozart's music, and does so in a way which is carefully considered. For example, when the insane and enfeebled Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) reminisces on the sheer beauty of Mozart's compositions, we hear music to match his words, "And there... an oboe, high and unwavering... until a clarinet takes over, and forms a phrase of such longing..." The effect is deeply moving. Examples of this collaboration of music and picture are many; when Mozart (Tom Hulce) swaggers through the streets of Vienna taking swigs from a bottle of wine, we hear a jolly piano concerto; and he is hurled into a mass grave to the sorrowful Lacrimosa of his requiem mass. The music should move any viewer, however much they confess to hating anything classical. If you haven't seen this film, watch, or rather listen, for the scene where Salieri inspects samples of Mozart's music. The originality in switching the music as he turns the pages is profound. The acting is superb, particularly from Abraham. Hulce's cackle provides comic relief, and his wonderfully child-like mannerisms are testament not only to his acting skills, but to Forman's exceptional direction and vision. On the other hand, we are shown two moments of antithesis, namely when he is composing at his billiards table (his face taking on a look of such mature concentration), and when he is dictating his Confutatis to Salieri. Yes, we do get to see Mozart compose, and talk about tonic, dominant, second measures, etc. I would have preferred to have seen more of his thought processes though, because Forman's glimpse of how Mozart applied his genius is extremely exciting to watch, but short lived. Characterisations are brilliantly engineered. Salieri is scheming and yet outwardly indifferent to Mozart. We can see that he loves the music of his superior, and yet is torn apart by his own inadequacy. Inadequacy is a fitting word for Salieri's skill as portrayed by Forman, who wanted to give the greatest contrast possible in terms of the virtuosity of the two men, without making Salieri look like a complete cretin. He is, after all, known as maestro Salieri. Constanze Mozart (Elizabeth Berridge) is on first appearances a giggling girl, and yet through the course of the film we are shown that she is very shrewd, and is ruthless when dealing with finance. Roy Dotrice's Leopold Mozart has a masterful air, and maintains an oppressive paternal hold over his son even after his death, the analogy being the use of an enveloping cloak. The cloak is used as part of Leopold's street wear, but is also part of the costume of the statue in the first showing of Don Giovanni, where Salieri is certain that the imposing figure of the giant statue represents the recently deceased Leopold. In short, Forman presents us with a marvelous psychological essay on weakness and power, both superficial and real. This is obviously no average biographical motion picture, but a film conceived with an intelligence nearing that of it's subject. We are shown Mozart's virtuosity several times, which again provides wonderful excitement. He not only plays variations of his music thought up on the spot (at the party scene) but plays them in the styles of other composers, upside down. He infuriates Salieri by arranging a welcoming march actually written for Mozart (and taken to be wonderful by the Italian up to this point), showing off his outstanding skills whilst looking around at the assembled courtiers and cackling with glee. Those who have watched this scene with me have either laughed or smiled in sheer wonderment at a majestic combination of music, acting and direction. This film is a gem, combining sometimes ridiculous comedy with deep tragedy. On the negative side, it would benefit opera buffs more than concert goers, because opera is the dominant musical genre of the movie. (Specially designed opera productions have been woven into the film; greatly extending it's length but adding that extra colour and vibrancy). The film becomes heavy and slow moving as it nears its astonishingly refreshing conclusion at the lunatic asylum, noticeable largely due to the contrast with a lighter beginning. This may test the patience of some viewers, but once the credits roll, I guarantee that the majority of those who have watched Amadeus will be struck by the passing of such a wonderfully colourful and rewarding masterpiece, and will not want to move from their seats until the tranquil piano concerto fades away. The film deserves all its eight Oscars, and I give it 9 out of 10.

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OH! This movie is WONDERFUL, this movie is BEAUTIFUL! I just love it, and not because of my fixation on Mozart, but because it is a beautifully made, completely moving work of art.

What many people do not seem to understand is that the film is entirely Salieri's--it is NOT in any way about Mozart himself, nor is it a biography about the composer. It is about Salieri's madness and obsession WITH Mozart, and yet because the character of Mozart is played so unforgettably by Tom Hulce in such an unconventional performance, the viewer takes most notice of him and will think him the central figure. The film chooses to highlight the comparison of mediocrity versus genius; Mozart is obviously the better of the two composers, and Salieri can see his own mediocrity and recognize his inferiority to Mozart so well that he is driven insane. Watch the film again; while it is true much biographical information about Mozart's life is given while telling us relatively little on Salieri's, you will see that the purpose of this is only to highlight Mozart's genius, his natural and uncanny abilities that come so easily to him. We see how his life affects Salieri's directly and we see Salieri old in his wheelchair, long after Mozart has died, still being affected by it.

One might say "Then WHY is it called 'Amadeus?'" as that is Mozart's middle name, and naming the film after him would certainly cause one to believe that the central figure would have the title (was not "Forrest Gump" about Forrest Gump?) But why, then, "Amadeus?" Why not "Mozart" or "Wolfgang," the only names he is referred to as in the movie? Look at the connotative meaning of the name "Amadeus:" In Latin it means "Loved by God." It's so perfect, so fitting that this should be the title; Peter Schaffer could not have asked for better! Not only does Salieri throughout the entirety of the movie express his disdain for Mozart, but he keeps coming back to God: "Why does God not give me talent? Why Mozart? Why does God love him, but not me?" Indeed, Mozart IS loved by God, if God's love is shown through gifts and abilities. "Amadeus" does not stand for Mozart himself, but for a major theme expressed throughout the film.

Oh, the themes, motifs, symbolism and hidden meanings! But what of the movie itself? The brilliant acting, the beautiful dresses and jackets, the unforgettable scenes? F. Murray Abraham is perfectly cast in this perfectly acted role; he grimaces and holds back hatred so perfectly, and nothing about his performance makes you think he is acting. Tom Hulce as Mozart is wonderful-most will remember his annoying laugh that bursts forth at the most inappropriate of times. The most memorable scene occurs at the end, when Mozart is on his deathbed, dictating his requiem to Salieri as Salieri struggles still to understand the brilliant notes flowing through Mozart's mind. The importance lies not in the fact that Mozart is dying (though his departure from the movie, for me, was quite traumatic) but in seeing how Salieri must have more of Mozart's work; he hates this man and yet he recognizes the brilliance of his music, a brilliance he will never posses. Some of the most enjoyable scenes depict productions of Mozart's operas; "The Abduction from the Seraglio" finale in the beginning is bright and joyous; "The Magic Flute" Queen of the Night aria scene is shown and contains of the most beautiful arias I have ever heard. Even if you don't like opera, you will be amazed at how high the soprano must sing.

This is just my absolute favorite movie, and I certainly did not analyze it like this the first time I saw it. I did not see everything either, the important themes and such, but every time I watched it I got more out of it. And it really is just so enjoyable, so funny, so perfect. The music, the actors-there is just something about them. Perhaps because none went on to be stars, and all you see is the movie, not the actors. I am basing everything on the original cut, not the new director's version, which I have seen, but I have entirely different things to say about it. The original is perfect as is. Watch it, you will see what I mean. You'll love it. I know I do!



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