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
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 is furiously writing his Requiem mass without hearing the banging on the door. The section heard is the opening of the Dies Irae as the choir sings "Dies irae, dies illa/ Solvet saeclum in favilla,/ Teste David cum Sibylla./ Quantus tremor est futurus,/ Quando judex est venturus,/ Cuncta stricte discussurus!" which translates as "This day, this day of wrath/ shall consume the world in ashes,/ as foretold by David and the Sibyl./ What trembling there will be/ When the judge shall come/ to weigh everything strictly!" See more »
When Mozart goes to meet Emperor Josef II for the first time, there are two guards keeping Mozart out with some type of swords, both guards are holding them in a closed position blocking Mozart both using their right hands on the swords.
When the guards finally let Mozart through, they open up the swords to let Mozart pass (both guards still using their right hands on the swords) and when the camera switches to the other side of the doorway, the guards quickly close the doorway with their swords right behind Mozart but now the guard behind Mozart's rear-right is holding his sword in his left hand. See more »
The Orion Pictures logo, which was seen at the beginning of the film when it was first released theatrically, was not shown when the film played on both cable and commercial television, and is not seen on the VHS or DVD releases. See more »
I'd like to point out a few facts before I review the movie. First of all, Mozart died at home surrounded by his family, pupil and a priest. Secondly, the plot of Amadeus is not exactly original. Rimsky-Korsakov wrote a short opera called "Mozart and Salieri" with the bare bones of the story and the identical characterization of the two composers, and he used Pushkin's drama for the libretto. So, the rumor that Salieri killed Mozart has been around for almost a couple of centuries though we all know there isn't an iota of veracity in it.
That being said, Peter Shaffer's movie adaptation of his own play is still an astounding achievement. Have you ever seen a movie based on your favorite book and come out of the movie theater rather disappointed though the film version faithfully followed the storyline of the book? Amadeus is definitely not one of those movies. Shaffer clearly understands the difference between stage and film; the story is more elaborate in the movie, and some of the lengthy lines are replaced with more subtle images and close-ups.
I'm often surprised to find that people don't get that Amadeus is the story of the fictionalized character, Antonio Salieri, not the real one, who adored Mozart's music but hated everything else about him. In other words, the movie viewers are seeing Mozart through Salieri's eyes. Needless to say, his view is rather slanted. If you have read Shaffer's original play, you probably remember he describes Mozart's laugh 'grating.' In the film, this annoying laugh becomes more symbolic. Though Salieri speaks in front of a Catholic priest, he is actually having a one-sided discourse with God. At one point, he declares, "One day, I will laugh at you. Before I leave this earth, I will laugh at you." But as he is wheeled out of his room by an aide at the asylum, what we hear is that screeching laugh of Mozart--or is it? It becomes obvious as we watch that this movie is called Amadeus because that's what Salieri wished to be--God's beloved.
The movie might give some viewers who don't know much about Mozart a wrong impression that he was a cad, and it gives incorrect information on some of his music (e.g.; the count in The Marriage of Figaro sings "Contessa perdono" AFTER he learns that the woman dressed in the maid's clothes is his own wife. There's no mistaken identity here. Read the title of the song--Countess, forgive me!), but these are minor offenses. Though I am a die-hard Mozart fan, I can laugh at tongue-in-cheek references to Amadeus in other movies. My favorite? In Guarding Tess, a secret service agent tells his partner, "He (Mozart)'s a jerk. One day, a guy shows up with a mask, and he drops dead."
What's not to like about Amadeus? The tale Peter Shaffer tells is gripping, the actors are first- rate, and, of course, there's music. The selection of Mozart's music in the movie is excellent; you can truly enjoy the beauty of his music no matter how much or how little you know about it. In case you are wondering, a little tune Mozart plays on his back and hands crossed as a penalty at a party is Viva Bacchus from The Abduction from the Seraglio, a duet for Pedrillo and Osmin. Pedrillo, while singing this song, is trying to get Osmin, the harem guard, drunk to help his master rescue his true love. No wonder Schikaneder calls it 'our song.' And the improvised version of Salieri's welcome march is actually a famous song, Non piu andrai farfallone amoroso, from The Marriage of Figaro.
As I said, I'm a huge Mozart fan, so my rating may be somewhat biased, but what the heck, I gladly give ten stars to Amadeus. I watched it close to a hundred times over the years, and it still gives me a great pleasure every time I see (and hear) it.
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