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A movie directed by Milos Forman

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The Boy Genius and His Bitter Adversary

  • Jul 30, 2003
For those about to see this film for the first time, they can expect a feast for their senses...at least in terms of sight and sound. Both the production values and the music are magnificent. In 1984, it received Academy Awards for best director (Milos Forman) and leading actor (F. Murray Abraham) as well as for adapted screenplay, art direction, costume design, makeup, and sound. It was also nominated for cinematography and deserved that award also, losing out to The Killing Fields. Although Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) is the subject, the film's focus is really on Antonio Salieri (Abraham) who is offended by young Mozart's vulgarity and resentful of the fact that such an immature boor should be entrusted by God with such exceptional talent. He considers himself the victim of a cruel practical joke, although he appreciates Mozart's "divine" talent which only serves to exacerbate his resentment. Unlike other films such as The Red Shoes which also offers so much that is pleasing to the eye and ear, Amadeus has a complicated plot which involves equally complicated human relationships, notably Mozart's with Salieri and with his father Leopold Mozart (Roy Doltrice). The supporting cast is first-rate. As the film progresses, we realize that young Mozart is literally working himself to death as he struggles to complete a commission to compose "Requiem," not realizing that Salieri is his "benefactor." There is so much to enjoy in this film even as Mozart's health deteriorates. What to make of Salieri? His jealousy is certainly understandable, if reprehensible. As the film draws to its sad conclusion, and as his own health deteriorates, Salieri's attitude toward Mozart seems to me ambivalent. Yes, the disapproval and resentment remain but I also sense a certain pride in his association with the young genius. The tone is bittersweet, in fact poignant as the old man realizes that Mozart's art -- not his -- will be remembered and cherished.

This DVD version also provides several supplementary items which include commentaries by Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer as well as a behind-the-scenes 37-minute documentary, "The Making of Amadeus."

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More Amadeus reviews
review by . February 22, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
'Amadeus' is an all-around well-crafted masterpiece. It is one of those rare movies that is both frolicking fun and an epic classic. How much of the movie is true or revisionism doesn't matter as much as how they use true elements to frame the enigma of Mozart's persona and genius.     There are two stories really: The main story is about Mozart (Tom Hulce), but it is told by an aged Solieri (F. Murray Abraham), Mozart's envious nemesis, at an asylum where a priest comes to hear …
review by . July 26, 2002
The bit a lot of people miss about Amadeus is not so much that it's a fiction (this really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone: it purports to be the recounted story of a person in a madhouse, after all), but that it's an adaptation of a play. Like most playwrights, Peter Shaffer (he of Equus) was not interested in historical accuracy to documentary standard - and nor is this picture. In fact, it's much cleverer than that - what we get here is a beautifully scripted essay on Envy, God and your …
review by . October 11, 2000
This is a great movie, but what impressed me is the quality of the Dolby 3.2 soundtrack. It is absolutely the best demonstration and test of what is great about home theater sound versus stereo. If you love classical music, this soundtrack will absolutely send you into ectasy.
About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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The satirical sensibilities of writer Peter Shaffer and director Milos Forman (One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest) were ideally matched in this Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Shaffer's hit play about the rivalry between two composers in the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II--official royal composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), and the younger but superior prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). The conceit is absolutely delicious: Salieri secretly loathes Mozart's crude and bratty personality, but is astounded by the beauty of his music. That's the heart of Salieri's torment--although he's in a unique position to recognize and cultivate both Mozart's talent and career, he's also consumed with envy and insecurity in the face of such genius. That such magnificent music should come from such a vulgar little creature strikes Salieri as one of God's cruelest jokes, and it drives him insane.Amadeuscreates peculiar and delightful contrasts between the impeccably re-created details of its lavish period setting and the jarring (but humorously refreshing and unstuffy) modern tone of its dialogue and performances--all of which serve to remind us that these were people before they became enshrined in historical and artistic legend. Jeffrey Jones, best-known as Ferris Bueller's principal, is particularly wonderful as the bumbling emperor (with the voice of a modern midlevel businessman). The film's eight Oscars include statuettes...
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