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
Prague (Milos Forman's native city) was ideal as a stand-in for Vienna, as modern television antennas, plastic and asphalt had rarely been introduced under Communist rule. See more »
When describing La nozze di Figaro, Salieri says "I saw the woman... hear her husband speak the first tender words he has offered her in years". However, what Salieri is actually watching is the very end of the opera ("Ah tutti contenti" is literally the finale of the opera) where the husband has already realized his mistakes and is apologizing for his previous behavior. See more »
The director's cut (2002) adds the following scenes (twenty minutes in total):
When Salieri talks of his initial success in Vienna, a section has been added where Salieri describes how he believed God had accepted his vow, and how he honored it, working hard and often for free, while staying chaste.
When Salieri describes his first impression of Mozart's music to the priest, a shot has been added, where Salieri expresses his denial, saying that the music couldn't be anything but an "accident".
After the performance of "Die Entführung aus dem Serail", the scene has been extended after Caterina Cavalieri storms off of the stage, with Wolfgang getting a bucket of water and throwing over Frau Weber. After that a scene has been added where Salieri and Mozart visits Cavalieri in her lodge. Caterina throws some surly remarks about Constanze before she too comes and asks that she and Mozart go home. Mozart walks out on Caterina, and the scene goes to Salieri saying that he knew Mozart "had had her".
When Salieri asks "What was God up to?", the monologue has been extended, with Salieri speculating that it might be a test by God.
After Salieri admits to have started to hate Mozart, a shot has been inserted of Salieri praying, asking that Mozart be sent to Salzburg. This is immediately followed by the shot of the archbishop telling Leopold that he won't take Mozart back.
After Mozart refuses to submit his work for the royal appointment, a scene has been added showing Wolfgang and Constanze arguing. This establishes that the couple is in need of money.
When Constanze goes to visit Salieri in secret, the scene has been extended, starting with Salieri teaching a student.
The biggest addition comes after Constanze asks if Salieri will help them; instead of just walking out on her, he says says that she must come to his place, alone in the evening, strongly implying they must have sex for him to recommend Mozart's on the committee.
The scene switches to Salieri praying at his clavichord as Constanze arrives. She begins to undress, with Salieri looking shocked. When she is half-nude, Salieri calls in his valet and tells him to escort Constanze out. Humiliated and furious she throws a candelabra after him. Wolfgang finds Constanze crying in bed at home. This explains why Constanze is so eager to throw Salieri out of her home at the end of the movie.
Another large section is added where Salieri implies to the emperor that Mozart has been molesting young female students. This results in someone else getting the royal appointment. Mozart comes to see Salieri, receiving the news. Mozart asks Salieri for a loan, again establishing that he needs money. Salieri recommends Mozart give lessons to a Herr Schlumberg's daughter. The lesson however turns out a major frustration for Mozart, with Herr Schlumberg's dogs howling and causing a ruckus.
A scene has been added where Salieri and Baron Van Swieten discuss Mozart's financial difficulties. This is followed by a shot of a drunken Mozart again visiting Herr Schlumberg, asking if he may give lessons and - when denied - asks for a loan. That request is denied as well.
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.
42 of 44 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this