The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporaneous composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered h... Read allThe life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporaneous composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him.The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporaneous composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him.
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.
- Jan 30, 2007