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
It has been claimed that the concept for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's bizarre laugh was taken from "references in letters written about him by two women who met him", that describe him as laughing in "an infectious giddy" which sounds "like metal scraping glass". No citations have ever been provided for these letters, however. There is no indication as to who wrote them, to whom or when. And in the absence of further citations, these claims of historical evidence for Mozart's laugh should be regarded as dubious at best. Robert L. Marshall, writing in "Film as Musicology: Amadeus" (The Musical Quarterly, Vol.18/2, 1997, p.177) says that there is "absolutely no historical evidence for this idiosyncrasy. We simply have no contemporary testimony at all as to how Mozart sounded when he laughed." Marshall goes on to explain that the laugh is a dramatic device, representing the mocking laughter of the gods, as Salieri states in the script. 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 producer, screenplay writer and director thank the following for their boundless assistance in our effort to present the physical authenticity and aura you have seen and felt in "Amadeus": -The National Theatre of Czechoslovakia and Prague's Tyl Theatre management for allowing us to film in the Tyl sequences from the operas: "Abduction from the Seraglio," "The Marriage of Figaro," and "Don Giovanni." It was actually in this magnificently preserved theatre that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conducted the premiere performance of "Don Giovanni" on October 29, 1787. -His Eminence Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek for his kindness in permitting us to use his beautiful residence headquarters in Prague as the Emperor's palace. -The Barrandov Studios and CS Filmexport for their help in filming "Amadeus" in Prague and in castles and palaces throughout Czechoslovakia. 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.
"Amadeus", while historically inaccurate in numerous ways, is a brilliant film. Its central character is not a man but an attribute of man at his most remarkable: genius. Mozart's genius was at the highest level, on par with Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Balanchine. Forman knew this when he undertook translating Peter Shaffer's play. Although most of the acting is on a very high plane, the actors themselves are not top tier, not should they be. A famous, easily recognizable actor would have detracted from the central thesis that genius is greater than the one on whom it has been entrusted. Mozart was, of course, deeper than the character shown in the movie, but no personal life could equal the extent and depth of the musical genius that flowed from this little man. The letters he sent to his father show a remarkable sensitivity and depth of understanding. However, they are not paradigms of literary greatness. The immense contribution of W. A. Mozart lay in some of the most sublime music ever written. Fortunately, the film gave us snippets of some of the real gems in the Mozart canon: the great C Minor Mass, the Requiem and "Don Giovanni". Forman realized that no human being will ever be great enough or have the background to pen such masterpieces without intervention from elsewhere. This is certainly true of Shakespeare as well. So what we have here, ultimately, is a celebration of genius, that great gift to mankind that nearly always proves to be too much for the person who is chosen to manifest it to the rest of us. Many thanks to Milos Forman for the wisdom to keep out of the way and allow genius to shine through. In that sense, "Amadeus" is an exercise in humility. Few films come across as blessings for those who experience them. "Amadeus" is one such film.
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