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
In 2019, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". See more »
When Mozart is conducting "The Marriage of Figaro", the Emperor can be seen yawning in the background. He is shown yawning about two minutes later, and Salieri specifically states that the Emperor only yawned once during the performance. 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 »
To give everything you have to music and come up short
At the tender age of 26, when I still thought no film was complete without a car chase and a big explosion, Amadeus had me hooked. I went to see it multiple times back in 1984 during its initial release, back when the theater was empty whenever it played and before it was nominated by the Academy.
This film is an unusual biography, and I often like to compare it with Ed Wood, since both Ed Wood and Salieri were men who gave everything they had to their respective crafts and came up short. Salieri, a contemporary of Mozart, has only one dream - to be a great composer. Predating the prosperity gospel by about two hundred years, Salieri mistakes obsessing with God over his own earthly desires with actual godliness, even being happy when his father - who objects to Salieri's musical interests - chokes to death and leaves Salieri free to pursue his musical dreams. He chalks this up to God's will for his career. Problems begin when Salieri meets a twenty-something Mozart at the court of the Emperor in Vienna, where Salieri is the court composer. Mozart is everything Salieri is not - profane, forward, and a great composer. Salieri starts down the road to insanity as he realizes the childish Mozart has all of the gifts he ever wanted and has been denied. However, Salieri is not an outright failure as was Ed Wood. In many ways he is something worse than a ridiculous failure - he is mediocre, and worse yet, he knows it.
Salieri,angry at God for honoring a profane ungrateful boy like Mozart while ignoring his own one desire to be a great composer, swears to destroy Mozart. The strange thing is, as long as Mozart is alive, Salieri is the honored composer, not Mozart, though this just seems to infuriate Salieri even more. Salieri seems to be the only person in Vienna who recognizes Mozart's talent. This just begs the question - why did it never occur to Salieri that being able to recognize something as valuable before anyone else does is a talent in and of itself? After all, in 1975 the second best thing to being Bill Gates would have been to have recognized his genius and invested heavily in his success. But I digress.
The cinematography and art direction on this film are outstanding. The visuals start out light and festive, matching Mozart's mood and prospects. As poverty, illness, and the guilt of his father's death close in on Mozart during the second half of the film, the mood and visuals become very dark to match what is happening in Mozart's own life. Highly recommended.
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