As I was watching Amadeus, I failed to find any fault with it. This film may be one of the closest to perfection I have seen. It is pure genius at illustrating all the juicy emotions that make a film great: greed, lust, jealously and envy.
The music of Amadeus, performed by The Academy of St.Martins in the Fields and conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, is the driving source for the films power. It helps instill Mozart’s true madness.
There is a pattern of films that, by using great musical methods, become great themselves. A perfect example being Forrest Gump and the use of period music to show progression through life.
Amadeus director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Man on the Moon) uses the music of Mozart to help tell a deeper story. Where the acting and storyline illustrate the lives of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (played by the poorly aged Tom Hulce) and Antonio Salieri (played by F. Murray Abraham), the music shows what the real Mozart was thinking/feeling and how, in the end, he succumbed to a short life of greed, paranoia, immaturity and addiction
The life of Mozart is one that is widely known – a boy genius who stayed a boy his whole life – but the life of Antonio Salieri is not. As an Italian composer in Vienna, before the arrival of Mozart, Salieri was a man content with being average. In that time, talent was less important than your obedience to your King and the monarch. Salieri was successful, respected and was, for the most part, a happy guy.
He had a decent bit of pull in the aristocratic world and he even acted as court composer to Emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones). This all changed with the arrival of Mozart to Vienna. At first, Salieri used his power to belittle Mozart’s immature, vulgar, improper and disloyal personality. But, as it turned out, Mozart’s musical abilities trumped Salieries’s power, fame and in some ways, his masculinity.
With all this going on, Salieri started to pent up thoughts of violence, jealously and envy of Mozart.
“My heart was filling up with such hatred for that little man. For once in my life, I began to think dangerous thoughts”
The character of Salieri is one of heavy religious influences. He thanks God everyday for his placement in an aristocratic society. With the arrival of Mozart, Salieri blames God for his creation of Mozart and placing such talent and genius in someone that seems to waste it.
“Because You choose for your creation this boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me the talent to recognize your incarnation. Because You are unjust!”
The remaining stages of the film are a slew of attempts at ending Mozart’s life. Although Salieri never had it in him to kill Mozart, he did watch Mozart slowly kill himself through years of stress, financial insecurity, addiction and greed. Amadeus has an excellent way of illustrating true guilt in a person.
After Mozart dies and as Salieri gets older, he feels responsible for the death…or at least he feels remorse for not helping and only being envious.
Amadeus is simply amazing. If has all the ingredients of a good film, and more. One can’t simply apply the standard cut and dry checklist of a good film: character development, acting, setting, plot…etc. Amadeus rises above those traits and it instills a certain emotion that most films with those items do not possess.
The film is believable. Forman made sure everything was authentic; from the opera houses used in filming to the creaking noises of the floorboards and doors in some scenes. It’s like you enter this historical era when watching, and when done you must realize that it is the 21st century.
This is one of those films that if an extra hour of filming was tacked on, you wouldn’t even notice.