Sunday, January 20, 2008
Amadues; drama, USA, 1984; D: Miloš Forman, S: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Jeffrey Jones, Roy Dotrice, Simon Callow, Christine Ebersole
Vienna, 18th Century. A priest enters a mental institution in order to take a confession from the old composer Salieri who tells him about his life: as a young lad, he was a music composer for Austrian Emperor Joseph II., but he was always jealous of the cheerful Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) whose superior musical genius was simply outstanding. Mozart was unusual and loved women and alcohol, thus his operas were rather controversial since they played out in a brothel or mentioned the forbidden Figaro, but the Emperor and the people admired his music. Due to stress, Mozart died in front of Salieri in bed.
Winner of numerous awards for best picture, biographical drama "Amadues" is with its 160 minutes of running time undoubtedly too long and lethargic at times, but at the same time it is undoubtedly rich with absolutely brilliant moments. The bravest move of director Miloš Forman and screenwriter Peter Shaffer was to show the legendary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart not as a serious, noble, idealised gentleman, but as a realistic, cheerful madman who talks such stupidities like these: "Everything here is done backwards! People walk backwards and even fart backwards". The whole story gains a distinctive edge thanks to the fascinating 'side character' Salieri, a mediocre music composer who begged for God to make him famous and in return he will practice sexual abstinence! But when he realizes that the best music he ever heard was composed precisely by the hedonistic womanizer Mozart, he declares his 'rebellion' against God and places the crucifix into the flame! The best scene is his horror due to admitting that Mozart still managed to achieve a great opera, but then thinks: "A miracle happened!" Namely, the Emperor yawned. "Amadeus" is a surprisingly funny, unusual and quirky history lesson which shows how competition and jealousy are timeless human 'virtues', and also displaying how some people can be talented without being noble - the biggest flaw is the mild epilogue, but as a whole it is an elite example of its genre.