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A movie directed by Milos Forman

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It ain't a documentary - understand this, and you'll love it

  • Jul 26, 2002
  • by
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 Just Deserts (and why you don't always get them), played out between light and dark in the beautiful setting of Prague. As befits a theatrical adaptation, the symbolism is stark - Mozart's white (even manifesting itself in a dove at one point, for heaven's sake) plays the establishment's black. For the most part, you can judge the sympathies of a given character at a point in time by the colour of his or her wig. Salieri, the great tormentor (and tormentee) is finally rendered head to toe in snowy white, being wheeled down the corridors of the madhouse, himself absolved and offering absolution to his fellow in-patients. And Mozart disappears, in a hessian sack, into a cloud of quicklime of the purest white.

I suppose the American accents shouldn't have grated - historically they're no less accurate than English ones, or the speaking of English at all, for that matter. Still, a pity that Simon Callow traded his English accent for a silly American one.

Good tip (especially for those stuffy types who don't dig Tom Hulce's hyena impersonation): watch the film with the alternative music only soundtrack. Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martins in the Fields playing Mozart to the accompaniment of pretty Czech snowscapes is about as it good as it gets.

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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 30, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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.
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Olly Buxton ()
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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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