Thursday, February 28, 2019

Movie Review: "Amadeus" (1984)

Director: Milos Forman
Year: 1984
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

The story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as told by musical rival Antonio Salieri.

Amadeus 1984 movie still Tom Hulce
"Why would God choose an obscene child to be His instrument?" (Image Source)
Mozart may have died in 1791, but most nights, he certainly partied like it was 1799. "Amadeus" is directed by Milos Forman, who is known for such films as "Hair," "Valmont," and the Oscar-winning "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The screenplay is written by Peter Shaffer and is based on his own stage play. The story in this film is told by elderly Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) as he confesses to a priest and claims he has killed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). Salieri is a pious man who loves music. He is a hard worker and has devoted his life to God in what he sees as an exchange for his musical talent. Salieri has heard of the musical prodigy Mozart before, after all, the child was writing compositions and operas before he hit puberty. Salieri becomes obsessed with discovering what kind of man would be so blessed by God with such immense talent. When Salieri discovers Mozart's less-than-devout lifestyle of womanizing and partying, he is driven mad looking for the answer, which causes him to have a crisis of faith as he wonders why Mozart was so blessed and able to produce music with such little effort while he has had to work hard for everything. Salieri loves Mozart's talent, but hates him with a seethingly bitter disdain and seeks to destroy him in any way he can.
Amadeus 1984 movie F. Murray Abraham
"How could I tell him what music meant to me?" (Image Source)
Mozart was a classical composer, but to hear Salieri tell it his way, he may have been more comparable to a modern day rockstar. Mozart was a musical genius, had a thing for the ladies, abused mood-altering substances, and couldn't hold onto his money due to his love for his party-hard lifestyle. This depiction is brilliantly brought to life by Tom Hulce, who earned an Oscar nomination for his flamboyant portrayal of Mozart's genius and lavish lifestyle. His infectious giggle alone is Oscar-worthy. It wasn't Hulce, but rather his co-star F. Murray Abraham who took home the best actor trophy that year. Abraham competed in the same category for his portrayal of the jealousy-riddled Salieri. Abraham really sells his resentment and envy and is able to portray this two-faced character with absolute perfection. In some scenes, he pretends to be Mozart's friend, while in others, he secretly seeks to destroy him and undermine his work in any way possible. You can see both admiration and contempt, envy and disgust coming through all at the same time, which really makes it a masterclass performance. As with many period pieces, "Amadeus" is full of impeccably designed sets, extravagant costumes, and gorgeous, grand hairstyles. They are all simply amazing looking, and the amount of work painstakingly put into each scene is breathtaking. This film rightfully won Oscars in all of those categories the year it was nominated. In fact, it took home a grand total of eight Academy Awards out of its 11 nominations. Our one complaint about the film is that it wains a bit at the end of its second and into its third. We found ourselves wondering when it would be over despite being enthralled by the performances, the music, and the entire look of it.
Amadeus 1984 movie still Elizabeth Berridge
"I am a vulgar man, but I assure you, my music is not." (Image Source)
Milos Forman does it again with "Amadeus." This is an excellent movie that you should absolutely see at least once for the performances, its visual aesthetic, and direction alone.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.3/10
RT Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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