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Amadeus (1984)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  5 April 1985 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 249,668 users   Metascore: 93/100
Reviews: 536 user | 130 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri - now confined to an insane asylum.



(original stage play), (original screenplay)
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Top Rated Movies #88 | Won 8 Oscars. Another 33 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Kay ...
Lisbeth Bartlett ...
Papagena (as Lisabeth Bartlett)
Barbara Bryne ...
Martin Cavina ...
Young Salieri (as Martin Cavani)
Roderick Cook ...
Milan Demjanenko ...


Antonio Salieri believes that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's music is divine and miraculous. He wishes he was himself as good a musician as Mozart so that he can praise the Lord through composing. He began his career as a devout man who believes his success and talent as a composer are God's rewards for his piety. He's also content as the respected, financially well-off, court composer of Austrian Emperor Joseph II. But he's shocked to learn that Mozart is such a vulgar creature, and can't understand why God favored Mozart to be his instrument. Salieri's envy has made him an enemy of God whose greatness was evident in Mozart. He is ready to take revenge against God and Mozart for his own musical mediocrity. Written by Khaled Salem

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Everything you've heard is true. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




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Release Date:

5 April 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amadeus: The Director's Cut  »

Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$86,764 (USA) (5 April 2002)


$51,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (director's cut)| (35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The filmmakers often used music with text that could be interpreted as referential to the pathos of the story, and several times in Latin. One instance is where Mozart yells at his wife: "Go back to bed!" The music heard starting in that moment is the Rex tremendae from his Requiem mass as the choir sings "Rex tremendae maiestatis/ qui salvandos salvas gratis/ salve me, fons pietatis," which translates as "King of awful majesty/ You freely save those worthy of salvation/ Save me, fount of pity." See more »


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was left handed, not right as portrayed by Tom Hulce, most noticeable when he's at the billiard table composing. See more »


[first lines]
Antonio Salieri: Mozart! Mozart, forgive your assassin! I confess, I killed you...
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Crazy Credits

"Amadeus" was originally a National Theater Production in London, then produced in America by The Shubert Organization, Elizabeth I. McCann/Nelle Nugent and Roger Berlind. See more »


Edited into The Making of 'Amadeus' (2002) See more »


Harpsichord Piece in F Major, K33B
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Young Mozart on harpsichord and on violin when blindfolded
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A rare masterpiece
26 June 1999 | by (Taunton, Somerset, UK) – See all my 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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