Title – Amadeus (1984)
Director – Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest)
Cast – F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Jeffrey Jones, Charles Kay, Kenny Baker
Plot – Examines the lives of musical composers Antonio Salieri (Abraham) and the legendary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Hulce) in the music loving surrounds of Europe.
“It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God”
Review by Eddie on 17/06/2020
Disclaimer – this review is for the directors cut of the film
Quite possibly one of the most underrated directors to have worked in the industry, Oscar winning director Milos Forman created a grand epic for the ages with his lavish and operatic Amadeus, a mostly fictionalized account of the life and times of legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his made-up rivalry with fellow musician Antonio Salieri.
Setting in for an at times self-indulgent runtime of three hours, Forman rushes nothing as we set about learning the intricacies of F. Murray Abraham’s (in a role he would never better) Salieri’s obsessions with Tom Hulce’s (also in a role he would never better) Mozart, a man he feels is unworthy of the God given gifts he has been allotted concerning his musical powers.
It’s the type of epic film we wouldn’t get in today’s climate, one that is alive with impeccable costume design, sets and over the top performances, that for this tale perfectly suit as we follow Mozart and Salieri through significant years in their lives and in turn live amongst their music and mindsets that could only be prevalent in the minds of a genius, teetering on the edge of their sanity.
A god fearing obsessive, Abraham gets a lot to do as both a middle-aged Salieri and a suicidal elder statesman recanting his life’s story, while Hulce (with a near-maddening but often hilariously annoying laugh to boot) creates Mozart as an at first detestable man child that morphs into a sad but honest portrayal of a man whose talents weren’t always appreciated at the time, creating the perfect storm of mental state of mind that wasn’t contributing to a healthy life.
Amongst these meaty character examinations and explorations is an absolute feast for music fans and in particular opera lovers, with Forman dedicating ample screen time throughout Amadeus to showcase the incredible music and theater of the times.
Whilst almost 40 years old, this 8 time Oscar winning spectacle holds up spectacularly well in today’s climates with its ageless music and thoughtful construction contributing to create a film that feels as though it would not be bettered by today’s technological advancements.
There’s a lived in feeling to the films locations (often shot in the very venues Mozart and Salieri played in) and Forman’s dark humor and execution is prevalent throughout the piece, giving Amadeus a wickedly fun undertone that helps support its more repetitive or long-winded sequences.
Final Say –
Not the Mozart biography some may be seeking, Amadeus is an inventive and lovingly crafted account of two very different musical geniuses whose music continues to live on to this day. Filled with some grand-standing and memorable performances, Forman’s well-regarded feature is deserving of its place among the great Hollywood epics.
4 tasty desserts out of 5