After watching One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (and enjoying it immensely), I immediately wanted to see Milos Forman’s other best picture winner, Amadeus. I knew very little about the film, but decided to watch it anyway. My first impression was that I absolutely loved it and to my surprise, I felt that this is the better film over Cuckoo’s Nest.
Amadeus is a period drama about a 18th century composer, Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) who recounts his past relationship with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), one of history’s greatest composer’s.
So first off, Amadeus is told in a three act structure that heavily relies on the flashbacks of the 0ld Salieri. The film starts off as Salieri tries to cut his throat. We find in in a mental hospital afterwards, where he is visited by a priest. This is the first plot point of the story. The priest wants to talk with Salieri about why he wanted to kill himself. Salieri confesses that he feels that he killed one of the greatest composer of all time, Mozart. The story is then told through flashback, where we see both the lives of Salieri and Mozart. The second plot point is when Mozart dies, which also is the end of the flashbacks. Mozart dies just after he was writing the Requiem with Salieri. Mozart was sick that night (after heavy drinking), but still worked through the whole night to try to finish his last masterpiece, with Salieri.
Amadeus is an experience driven film. While it tells a large story that spans over many years, it is told through Salieri’s point of view. Because he is telling this story of his past to this priest, Salieri can’t help but become apart of what he is telling. His emotions and thoughts affect the story that we see. It his his experiences and point of view that we are watching.
Salieri is a very intriguing protagonist. The fact is, he is a very unsympathetic character. He truly appears to be an unpleasant man. His main conflict through out his entire life is why can’t he be a great musician like Mozart. He is jealous of him, he loathes him, but man, does he respect him. On the surface, Salieri’s body language and behavior make him appear to be swift, stern, calm, and proper. He’s a true aristocratic, and a passionate musician. His dialogue shows this very well also. He speaks kindly and properly with every single person that he encounters. But on the inside, he is holding back very strong hateful feelings toward Mozart. In one scene, Mozart’s wife begs Salieri to help Mozart get commissioned to make a new concert. She seems very desperate. He agrees, only if she comes later by that same evening. That evening she comes, and assuming that Salieri wants sex, she begins to strip. Just as she is undressing, Salieri purposefully calls in his butler, to embarrass a now topless Mrs.Mozart. Salieri’s hate towards Mozart extends so much that he even wants to put his wife through emotional pain. This scene is a fantastic example of Salieri’s internal become external.We see what he really is thinking about.
Now, Salieri’s background is explained in the beginning of the second act. As a kid, young Salieri loved music and wanted to become a musician one day. His father didn’t approve. So one day, young Salieri prayed to God, that one day, “please, let me become a great musician”. We then see that Salieri’s father chokes to death and that a career as a musician was now inevitable. Salieri’s background really helps us to understand how much he loves music. He feels that it is a gift (and a curse) from God. Really, it is his life.
Now moving on to the antagonist of the film, Mozart. He is the complete opposite of Salieri. He is energetic, eccentric, a risk taker, and a rebel in an aristocratic society. He also is truly obsessed with music. In a great scene, we get introduced to who the real Mozart is. He is meeting with the King of Austria, who wants Mozart to put on a concert for him. At first Mozart is clumsy, walking in, trying to act proper. Then after a bad joke, he laugh’s (his weird laugh). The King doesn’t seem to be impressed, same with Salieri, who is also at this meeting. However, Mozart then plays a bit of music on the piano. It was beautiful, absolutely flawless. The king is impressed and wants Mozart to put on his next concert. What this scene shows is that Mozart is somebody who does not fit in the world that he lives in. He stands out. He stands out to Salieri, who hates him because of his uniqueness. However, what stands out the most about Mozart, is his music.And that is what counts. It counts because it is Mozart’s music that really causes the conflict in this film. Salieri can’t stand to listen to it. It just hurts him to hear a true genius perform his music.
The lesson that I learned in Amadeus, has to do with the film’s conclusion. After telling the priest his story, Salieri realizes that he in fact is not responsible for killing Mozart. In fact, God is. How can God be evil enough to take such an amazing musician away from us so early? Why couldn’t Salieri have the same skill as Mozart? He has the desire which God gave him. Salieri than mocks the priest, and strolls through the hospital, preaching to the other mental patients. First off, this is just a fantastic ending. What I learned in this scene is that self-realization can be a powerful way for a character to fully develop, and that it can help them understand a solution to their conflict. Going through his whole history with Mozart made him realize that he was in fact was not responsible for Mozart’s death. While if it was God’s fault, that just Salieri’s opinion. The ending of this film works well because Salieri loses the guilt that he once had. While he is still probably a bit crazy, he has given himself some peace, knowing that he didn’t kill Mozart.
I hope that you enjoyed my film reviews. I love all of these films very much so I had a lot of fun writing them:)