The themes from the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid review continue. Herr Mozart, Happy 250th birthday. And Amadeus easily makes my list of favorite movies. Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, this is a great film, and will likely make a few top 100 lists (it did for the AFI)., but will rarely make the lists of learned and snobby film critics and scholars. A solid costume drama with talent on both sides of the camera, Amadeus was made for the Oscars (and it won the most in Oscar history until Titantic steamed into existence). Poignant performances, exceptional directing, and an unparalleled score (it is Mozart, of course) eclispse any need for complete historical fidelity.
Despite the film's namesake, the movie is Salieri's story, the rival of Mozart and famous Italian composer who knowningly thrives in mediocrity. Salieri, a steely man of faith, only wishes to play beautiful music in celebration of God. However, the crude and silly Mozart functions as God's instrument, and Salieri is cursed with only the ability to recognize Mozart's genius. This rumination on faith, art, beauty and envy, from my view, boast one of the exceptional (and most erotic and moving) scenes in film history. The prideful Mozart, despite difficulties finding wealthy patrons, refuses to submit his work for approval to be hired as a teacher for the royals. Mrs. Mozart, without Wolfie's knowledge, turns to Salieri for help. As he pours over Mozart's original compositions, Salieri sees "the voice of God," a sublime beauty that is both tangible and unattainable; and as Salieri looks at each individual sheet of music, the score changes to match the composition (pure genius). The most complex expressions of love, beauty, passion, torture, faith, perfection, envy and desire all captured in a two minute scence (although, this scene is rivaled by the final scene where Salieri and Mozart work on the Requiem).
F. Murray Abraham's (a Pittsburgh native) Salieri, for my money, is one of the most complex, maniacal, and sympathetic characters in film history. There is no greater torture than the love of absolute beauty and the desire to create it, but cursed with only the ability to recognize it. If the quality of a film is determined by its ability to move its audience on a fundamental level, for me, few rival Amadeus. But when your source material is one of the most transcendent artists in history, inspiration comes easily. What is it about musical geniuses? Mozart dies at 36, Beethoven loses his hearing before he writes the Ninth (the MOST perfect piece of music ever written and he never got to hear it). See this film, you will be a better person. Happy Birthday, Wolfie.