Movie Review: Amadeus
I had read about Mozart long time back and I love music of the classical era. Mozart’s music is out of the world!
When I watched the movie, I thought it would talk about the success of Mozart as an artist. It took a different approach- depicting Mozart as a prodigy, a budding artist, a struggling artist and above all, a man who considered his music – his passion, above everything else. His love for his field was above his father, his birth place, his wife and children, although he wasn’t exactly shown as being detached from them. But a man who was a spendthrift, dangling between fun, friends and alcohol, his love for music was never lost. And he openly acknowledged the gift that had been bestowed on him.
Salieri on the other hand was shown as the mediocre artist, who initially marvelled at the thought of meeting the prodigy at Archbishop’s but is greatly disappointed when he feels that God’s gift is with someone who according to him doesn’t deserve it. His journey from revelation to disappointment to envy to realizing what a miraculous musician Mozart was, was brilliant! All this was amazingly packed in a 3 hour movie.
Though Salieri called himself a mediocre, I don’t think he was. The emperor probably was but not Salieri, because he may not have had the talent to create a musical piece surpassing divinity but he had the ear to recognize one. When the whole Vienna failed to hear from their hearts what their mind heard, Salieri knew exactly what a legend Mozart was and he knew that his work would outlive generations!
One thing the movie failed to establish – the kid who is shown observing Mozart with Awe in the party which Mozart’s father Leopold attends, who none other than Beethoven. As per the biography of Mozart, Beethoven as a kid was hugely impressed and wanted to be his pupil. However, he couldn’t and finally learnt it from Salieri. This angle would have added even more grace to the movie – although it is just my own interpretation.
The part where Salieri asks Stanzee to come back alone at night if she wishes Mozart to have the position of Emperor’s niece’s tutor – I don’t know if it was true, but was great! It showed how a god fearing Salieri has crossed a line to achieve fame and not let Mozart have it- to be a sadist, have what Mozart has without any feel of guilt. The way he rejects Stanzee when she does come could be for two reasons-
- A. Because he initially wanted to have her forcefully, to inflict pain to Mozart through this but when he sees that Stanzee has come willingly, he loses interest in the act altogether. Beautifully shown.
- B. Though he transitions to a non-believer of God at this point, he still believed in music. I guess at some level he realized he need not stoop to this level and rather confront Mozart directly and be a stern competitor and not a coward. I’m not sure if this is what Milos Forman wanted to show too.
The way the movie started with Salieri’s attempted suicide to the confession and how it proceeds to flashback and ends with reality again was beautiful- though nothing new. Performance of Tom Hulce and Abraham Murray was outstanding! Everything from Joy, innocence, envy, hatred, love, vengeance, pity, lust , love for money, helplessness connected with the audience, at multiple levels and that’s exactly what a great movie should have done!
Something worth mentioning is the piece of music in every scene. It adds to what the character felt and it resonates in what we feel. More importantly, we listen to the artist’s work when the movie shows how it wasn’t being as appreciated as it should have. It was like living in two parallel worlds. Similarly, during the climax, Mozart is buried (rather tossed into) in mass graveyard and we listen to his Requiem in the background- symbolic of the last work of the legendary artist.
This movie is definitely something I would recommend everyone to watch- at least the people who enjoy music and art as much as I do!