Amadeus (film)

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Amadeus
Amadeusmov.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Peter Sís
Directed by Miloš Forman
Produced by Saul Zaentz
Screenplay by Peter Shaffer
Based on Amadeus 
by Peter Shaffer
Starring
Cinematography Miroslav Ondříček
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release dates
  • September 19, 1984 (1984-09-19)
Running time 161 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18 million
Box office $51.97 million

Amadeus is a 1984 American period drama film directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer. Adapted from Shaffer's stage play Amadeus (1979), the story is a variation of Alexander Pushkin's play Mozart i Salieri (Моцарт и Сальери, 1830), in which the composer Antonio Salieri recognizes the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart but thwarts him out of pride and envy. The story is set in Vienna, Austria, during the latter half of the 18th century.

The film was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globes, and a Directors Guild of America (DGA) award. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked Amadeus 53rd on its 100 Years... 100 Movies list.

Plot[edit]

The story begins in 1823 as the elderly Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) attempts suicide by slitting his throat while loudly begging forgiveness for having killed Mozart (Tom Hulce) in 1791. Placed in a lunatic asylum for the act, Salieri is visited by Father Vogler (Richard Frank), a young priest who seeks to take his confession. Salieri is sullen and uninterested but eventually warms to the priest and launches into a long "confession" about his relationship with Mozart.

Salieri's tale goes on through the night and into the next day. He reminisces about his youth, particularly about his devotion to God and his love for music and how he pledges to God to remain celibate as a sacrifice if he can somehow devote his life to music. He describes how his father's plans for him were to go into commerce, but suggests that the sudden death of his father, who choked to death during a meal, was "a miracle" that allowed him to pursue a career in music. In his narrative, he is suddenly an adult joining the 18th-century cultural elite in Vienna, the "city of musicians". Salieri begins his career as a devout, God-fearing man who believes his success and talent as a composer are God’s rewards for his piety. He is content as the respected, financially well-off, court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones).

Mozart arrives in Vienna with his patron, Count Hieronymus von Colloredo (Nicholas Kepros), the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Salieri goes to a performance at the Archbishop's palace hoping to meet Mozart. He is convinced that Mozart's genius must be a gift from God. Salieri secretly observes Mozart at the Archbishop's palace, but they are not properly introduced. He is shocked to discover that rather than the paragon of virtue that he has imagined, Mozart is in fact boorish, irreverent, and lewd. In 1781, when Mozart meets the Emperor, Salieri presents Mozart with a "March of Welcome," which he toiled to create. After hearing the march only once, Mozart plays it from memory, tactlessly critiques it, and effortlessly improvises a variation, transforming Salieri's "trifle" into the Non più andrai march from his 1786 opera The Marriage of Figaro.

Salieri reels at the notion of God speaking through the childish, petulant Mozart: nevertheless, he regards his music as miraculous. Gradually, Salieri’s faith is shaken. He believes that God, through Mozart's genius, is cruelly laughing at Salieri's own musical mediocrity. Salieri's struggles with God are intercut with scenes showing Mozart's own trials and tribulations with life in Vienna: pride at the initial reception of his music, anger and disbelief over his subsequent snubbing by the Italians of the Emperor's court, happiness with his wife Constanze (Elizabeth Berridge) and his son Karl, and grief at the death of his father Leopold (Roy Dotrice). Mozart becomes more desperate as the family's expenses increase and his commissions decrease. When Salieri learns of Mozart's financial straits, he sees his chance to avenge himself, using "God's Beloved" (the literal meaning of "Amadeus") as the instrument.

Salieri hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory over Mozart and God. He disguises himself in a mask and costume similar to one he saw Leopold wear at a party, and commissions Mozart to write a requiem mass, giving him a down payment and the promise of an enormous sum upon completion. Mozart begins to write the piece, the Requiem Mass in D minor, unaware of the true identity of his mysterious patron and oblivious of his murderous intentions. Glossing over any details of how he might commit the murder, Salieri dwells on the anticipation of the admiration of his peers and the court, when they applaud the magnificent Requiem, and he claims to be the music's composer. Only Salieri and God would know the truth—that Mozart wrote his own requiem mass, and that God could only watch while Salieri finally receives the fame and renown that he deserves.

Mozart's financial situation worsens due to his spendthrift lifestyle. This, combined with his heavy drinking, continued grief over the death of his father, and the composing demands of the Requiem and The Magic Flute drive him to the point of exhaustion as he alternates work between the two pieces. After a violent argument, Constanze leaves him and takes their son with her. His health worsens, and he collapses during the premiere performance of The Magic Flute. Salieri takes the stricken Mozart home and convinces him to work on the Requiem. Mozart dictates while Salieri transcribes throughout the night. When Constanze returns in the morning, she tells Salieri to leave. Constanze locks the manuscript away despite Salieri's objections, but as she goes to wake her husband, she finds that Mozart is dead. The Requiem is left unfinished, and Salieri is left powerless as Mozart's body is hauled out of Vienna for burial in a pauper's mass grave.

The film ends as Salieri finishes recounting his story to the visibly shaken young priest. Salieri concludes that God killed Mozart rather than allow Salieri to share in even an ounce of his glory, and that he is consigned to be the "patron saint of mediocrity". Salieri absolves the priest of his own mediocrity and blesses his fellow patients as he is taken away in his wheelchair. The last sound heard before the credits roll is Mozart's high-pitched laughter.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In his autobiography Beginning, Kenneth Branagh says that he was one of the finalists for the role of Mozart, but was dropped from consideration when Forman decided to make the film with an American cast.[2] Hulce reportedly used John McEnroe's mood swings as a source of inspiration for his portrayal of Mozart's unpredictable genius.[3]

Meg Tilly was cast as Mozart's wife Constanze, but she tore a ligament in her leg the day before shooting started.[3] She was replaced by Elizabeth Berridge. Simon Callow, who played Mozart in the original London stage production of Amadeus, was cast as Emanuel Schikaneder, the librettist of The Magic Flute.

The film was shot on location in Prague, Kroměříž and Vienna. Notably, Forman was able to shoot scenes in the Count Nostitz Theatre in Prague, where Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito debuted two centuries before. Several other scenes were shot at the Barrandov Studios.

Forman collaborated with American choreographer, Twyla Tharp.

Reception[edit]

In 1985, the film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including the double nomination for Best Actor with Hulce and Abraham each being nominated for their portrayals of Mozart and Salieri, respectively. The film won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Abraham), Best Director (Forman), Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk), Adapted Screenplay (Shaffer), Art Direction (Patrizia von Brandenstein), Best Makeup, and Best Sound. The film was nominated for but did not win Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Editing. Amadeus, The English Patient, The Hurt Locker, and The Artist are the only Best Picture winners to never enter the weekend box office top 5 after rankings began being recorded in 1982.[4][5][6] Amadeus peaked at #6 during its 8th weekend in theaters. Saul Zaentz produced both Amadeus and The English Patient.

The film was nominated for six Golden Globes (Hulce and Abraham were nominated together) and won four, including awards to Forman, Abraham, Shaffer, and Golden Globe Award for Best Picture – Drama. Jeffrey Jones was nominated for Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Drama. Forman also received the Directors Guild of America Award for his work.

At the end of the Oscar ceremony, Laurence Olivier came on stage to present the Oscar for Best Picture. As Olivier thanked the Academy for inviting him, he was already opening the envelope. Instead of announcing the nominees, he simply read, "The winner for this is ‘Amadeus’." An AMPAS official quickly went onstage to confirm the winner and signaled that all was well, before Olivier then presented the award to producer Saul Zaentz. Olivier (in his 78th year) had been ill for many years, and it was due to suffering from amnesia that he forgot to read the nominees.[7] Zaentz then thanked Olivier, saying it was an honour to receive the award from him,[8] before mentioning the other nominees in his acceptance speech: The Killing Fields, A Passage to India, Places in the Heart and A Soldier's Story. Maurice Jarre won the Oscar for Best Original Music Score for his scoring of A Passage to India. In his acceptance speech for the award, Jarre remarked "I was lucky Mozart was not eligible this year".[9]

Alternative versions[edit]

Amadeus premiered in 1984 as a PG-rated movie with a running time of 161 minutes. In 2002, director Miloš Forman introduced an R-rated version with nearly 20 minutes of restored footage. This version was released by the studios as a Director's Cut. In the 1995 supplemental material for Pioneer's deluxe LaserDisc, Miloš Forman had justified why those scenes were cut in the first place. However, in a subsequent 2002 interview with The A.V. Club, the director explains why the scenes were eventually restored:

When you finish a film, before the first paying audience sees it, you don't have any idea. You don't know if you made a success or a flop, when it comes to the box office. And in the '80s, with MTV on the scene, we are having a three-hour film about classical music, with long names and wigs and costumes. Don't forget that no major studio wanted to finance the film, for these reasons. So we said, "Well, we don't want to be pushing the audience's patience too far". Whatever was not directly connected to the plot, I just cut out. But it was a mutual decision [to limit the running time]. I wanted the best life for the film myself... Well, once we are re-releasing it on DVD, it doesn't matter if it is two hours and 40 minutes long, or three hours long. So why don't we do the version as it was written in the script?[10]

Music[edit]

Original soundtrack album[edit]

Film composer John Strauss won a Grammy Award for producing the soundtrack to the film.[11]

(all composed by Mozart except as noted)

  • Disc one
  1. Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183, first movement
  2. Stabat Mater: Quando Corpus Morietur and Amen (Pergolesi – performed by the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, directed by Simon Preston)
  3. Early 18th Century Gypsy Music: Bubak and Hungaricus
  4. Serenade for Winds, K. 361, third movement
  5. The Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 384, Turkish Finale
  6. Symphony No. 29 in A, K. 201, first movement
  7. Piano Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos in E-flat, K. 365, third movement
  8. Mass in C minor, K. 427, "Kyrie"
  9. Symphonie Concertante, K. 364, first movement
  • Disc two
  1. Piano Concerto in E-flat, K. 482, third movement
  2. The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492, act 3, "Ecco la marcia"
  3. The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492, act 4, "Ah, tutti contenti"
  4. Don Giovanni, K. 527, act 2, Commendatore scene
  5. Zaide K. 344, aria, "Ruhe sanft"
  6. Requiem, K. 626, "Introitus" (orchestra introduction)
  7. Requiem: "Dies irae"
  8. Requiem: "Rex tremendae majestatis"
  9. Requiem: "Confutatis"
  10. Requiem: "Lacrimosa"
  11. Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, second movement

The original soundtrack to Amadeus reached #56 on Billboard's album charts, making it one of the most popular recordings of classical music ever. All of the tracks were composed by Mozart, save an early Hungarian folk tune and the final movement Quando Corpus Morietur et Amen by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, from his famous Stabat Mater.

The film features some music that is not included on the original soundtrack album release. As stated above, except where specified, all tracks were performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, and all were performed specifically for use in the film. According to the film commentary by Forman and Schaffer, Marriner agreed to score the film if Mozart's music was completely unchanged from Mozart's original scores. Marriner did add some notes to Salieri's music that are noticeable in the beginning of the film, as Salieri begins his confession.

Music featured in the film but not included on the soundtrack album (but included in a later extended version):

  • The Magic Flute, overture
  • The Magic Flute, "Das klinget so herrlich"
  • The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria ("Der Hölle Rache") performed by June Anderson
  • The Magic Flute, "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen..." (Papageno) and "Pa-pa-gena! ... Pa-pa-geno!" (Papageno and Papagena) performed by Brian Kay and Gillian Fisher
  • Axur, re d'Ormus, "Son queste le speranze...", Salieri's opera shown in the beginning of the film
  • Die Entführung aus dem Serail, "Martern aller Arten", first opera that Mozart conducts in the film
  • The Marriage of Figaro, "Non più andrai"
  • The Marriage of Figaro, "Cinque...dieci...venti...trenta...", scene where Figaro (Samuel Ramey) is measuring a space for his wedding bed
  • Don Giovanni, "La ci darem la mano" appears as a parody sung as "Give me a hoof my darling, and I'll give you my heart"
  • Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, first movement
  • Harpsichord piece in F major, K. 33B, played when Mozart is a child at the harpsichord (while blindfolded), then on the violin (without blindfold).
  • Piano Concerto No.15 in B flat major, K. 450, third movement, played in the theatrical version when Mozart is walking through Vienna carrying a bottle of champagne, and in the director's cut when Mozart is teaching a girl to play the piano and is interrupted by barking dogs.
  • The 'improvisation', "in the manner of Johann Sebastian Bach" is based on the duetto "Vivat Bacchus!" from Die Entführung aus dem Serail'.

Awards and nominations[edit]

United States[edit]

Academy Awards 1985
Golden Globe Awards 1985
LAFCA Awards 1984
  • Won (4)
    • Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham tied with Albert Finney for Under the Volcano)
    • Best Director (Miloš Forman)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Screenplay (Peter Shaffer)
American Cinema Editors
  • Won (1)
    • Best Edited Feature Film (Nena Danevic and Michael Chandler)
Casting Society of America
  • Won (1)
    • Best Casting for Feature Film (Mary Goldberg)
Directors Guild of America
  • Won (1)
    • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Miloš Forman)
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award
  • Won (1)
    • Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham)
American Film Institute

United Kingdom[edit]

BAFTA
  • Won (4)
    • Best Cinematography (Miroslav Ondříček)
    • Best Editing (Nena Danevic and Michael Chandler)
    • Best Make Up Artist (Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc)
    • Best Sound (Mark Berger, Thomas Scott and Christopher Newman)
  • Nominated
    • Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham)
    • Best Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk)
    • Best Film (Miloš Forman and Saul Zaentz)
    • Best Production Design (Patrizia von Brandstein)
    • Best Screenplay – Adapted (Peter Shaffer)

Italy[edit]

David di Donatello
Nastro d'Argento
  • Won (2)
    • Best Actor – Foreign Film (Tom Hulce)
    • Best Director – Foreign Film (Miloš Forman)

France[edit]

César Award

Japan[edit]

Japan Academy Prize

Norway[edit]

Amanda Award
  • Won (1)
    • Best Foreign Feature Film

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amadeus (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ Branagh, Kenneth (1990). Beginning. New York: Norton. pp. 105–109. ISBN 978-0-393-02862-1. OCLC 20669813. 
  3. ^ a b The Making of Amadeus. DVD. Warner Bros Pictures, 2001. 20 min.
  4. ^ The English Patient weekend box office results, BoxOfficeMojo.com
  5. ^ Amadeus weekend box office results, BoxOfficeMojo.com
  6. ^ The Hurt Locker weekend box office results, BoxOfficeMojo.com
  7. ^ Olivier, by Terry Coleman, 2005, p 484
  8. ^ "Academy Awards Acceptance Speeches". Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. 1985-03-25. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  9. ^ Sharon Waxman (March 21, 1999). "The Oscar Acceptance Speech: By and Large, It's a Lost Art". The Washington Post. 
  10. ^ A.V. Club interview with Miloš Forman, April 24, 2002
  11. ^ Fox, Margalit (2011-02-17). "John Strauss, Composer of Car 54 Theme, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  12. ^ "The 57th Academy Awards (1985) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  13. ^ "Amadeus". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 

External links[edit]