Amadeus (film)

Amadeus (film)

Infobox Film
name = Amadeus

image_size = 215px
caption = theatrical release poster
director = Miloš Forman
producer = Saul Zaentz
writer = Peter Shaffer
starring = F. Murray Abraham
Tom Hulce
Elizabeth Berridge
music = Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
cinematography = Miroslav Ondříček
editing = Michael Chandler
distributor = Orion Pictures
released = 19 September 1984
runtime = 160 minutes
180 minutes "(director's cut)"
country = FilmUS
language = English
budget = US$18 million
gross = US$52 million
imdb_id = 0086879

"Amadeus" is a 1984 drama directed by Miloš Forman. Based on Peter Shaffer's stage play "Amadeus", the film is based very loosely on the lives of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, two composers who lived in Vienna, Austria, during the later half of the 18th century.

The film was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including 8 Academy Awards (including Best Picture), 4 BAFTA Awards, 4 Golden Globes, and a DGA Award. In 1998, "Amadeus" was ranked the 53rd best American movie by the American Film Institute on its "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies" list; however, the movie dropped off the AFI's 10th anniversary edition of the list in 2007.


The film begins in 1823 as Salieri, as an old man, attempts suicide by slitting his throat while loudly begging forgiveness from a now-deceased Mozart for having been his assassin. Placed in a lunatic asylum for the act, he is visited by a young priest who seeks to take his confession. Salieri is sullen and uninterested. The priest mentions a rumor that Salieri may have murdered Mozart and says that, if true, Salieri must unburden his mortal sins. Salieri remains uninterested until the priest says, "All men are equal in God's eyes." Suddenly, Salieri is hooked: "Are they?" he inquires, and launches into a long "confession" about the relationship between himself and Mozart.

Salieri reminisces about his youth, particularly about his love for music. His music education, however, was all but stopped by his uncultured, unloving father, who choked to death during a meal – "a miracle" that allowed Salieri to pursue his dream of 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 court composer for Austrian Emperor Joseph II, until Mozart arrives as a protegé of Count Hieronymus von Colloredo, the Bishop of Salzburg.

The irreverent, lewd, yet immensely talented Mozart inadvertently, yet repeatedly, humiliates Salieri and belittles his work. In 1781, when Mozart meets the Emperor, Salieri presents Mozart with a little "March of Welcome," which he had toiled to create. Upon hearing it, Mozart spontaneously "improves" this piece with minimal effort, transforming Salieri's "trifle" into the "Non più andrai" march from his opera "The Marriage of Figaro".

Salieri reels at the notion of God speaking through the childish, petulant Mozart, whose music he regards as miraculous. Gradually, Salieri’s faith is shaken. He believes God, through Mozart's genius, is cruelly laughing at his 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 treatment by the Italians of the Emperor's court, happiness with his wife Constanze and his son Wolfgang, and grief at the death of his father Leopold. Mozart becomes more desperate as the family's expenses increase and his commissions decrease. When Salieri learns of Mozart's financial straits, he finally sees his chance to avenge himself, using "God's Beloved" as the instrument.

Salieri hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory over Mozart and over God. He disguises himself as the spectre of Leopold and "commissions" the young composer to write a requiem mass, with a down payment and the promise of an enormous sum upon completion. Mozart begins to write perhaps his greatest work, the Requiem Mass in D minor, unaware of the true identity of his mysterious patron and his scheme: to kill him when the work was complete. Salieri dreamed of the admiration of his peers and the court as they applauded the magnificent mass of death he had written for Mozart, his friend and colleague. Only Salieri and God would know the truth – that Mozart wrote his own requiem mass, and that God could only watch while Salieri finally received the fame and renown he felt he deserved.

Mozart's financial woes and the eerie likeness of the piece's commissioner to his father drive him to the point of exhaustion as he works on the piece. After 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 Mozart home and tricks him into working on the Requiem, although Mozart is clearly very ill. Mozart dictates while Salieri transcribes throughout the night. As Constanze returns that morning, she tells Salieri to leave, but he protests, saying that he will not abandon Mozart. Constanze locks the manuscript away despite Salieri's objections, but as she goes to wake her husband, Mozart dies. The Requiem is left unfinished, and Salieri is left powerless as Mozart's body is hauled out of Vienna for burial in a 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 comical laughter.


*F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri
*Tom Hulce as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
*Elizabeth Berridge as Constanze Mozart
*Roy Dotrice as Leopold Mozart
*Simon Callow as Emanuel Schikaneder / Papageno
*Richard Frank as Father Vogler
*Christine Ebersole as Katerina Cavalieri / Costanza
*Jeffrey Jones as Emperor Joseph II
*Charles Kay as Count Orsini-Rosenberg
*Cynthia Nixon as Lorl, the Mozarts' maid


Kenneth Branagh was originally considered to play Mozart in the film, but was bypassed in favor of Hulce when Forman decided to make the film with an American cast, so that US audiences would not be "distracted" by the British accents.Fact|date=February 2008 Hulce reportedly used John McEnroe's mood swings as a source of inspiration for his portrayal of Mozart's unpredictable genius. ["The Making of Amadeus". DVD. Warner Bros Pictures, 2001. 20 min.]

Meg Tilly was cast as Mozart's wife Constanze, but she tore a ligament in her leg the day before shooting started. ["The Making of Amadeus". DVD. Warner Bros Pictures, 2001. 20 min.] 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, where "Don Giovanni" and "La Clemenza di Tito" debuted two centuries before. Several other scenes were shot at the Barrandov Studios.


In 1985, the film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including a rare double nomination for Best Actor – Hulce and Abraham were each nominated for their portrayals of Mozart and Salieri. The movie won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Abraham), Best Director (Forman), Costume Design (Theodor Pistek), 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" and "The English Patient" are the only two Best Picture winners to never enter the weekend box office top 5 after rankings began being recorded in 1982. ["The English Patient" weekend box office results, [] ] ["Amadeus" weekend box office results, [] ] "Amadeus" peaked at #6 during its 8th weekend in theaters.

The movie 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.

In his essay collection "The Relativity of Wrong", Isaac Asimov praised Abraham's depiction of Salieri and voiced his support for Abraham to receive the Oscar. Abraham won the award for his portrayal of Salieri, just as Ian McKellen won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Salieri in the 1980 Broadway theatre production.

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 is "Amadeus"." An AMPAS official quickly went onstage to confirm Olivier's announcement and signaled that all was well. Producer Saul Zaentz mentioned the other nominees in his acceptance speech: "The Killing Fields", "A Passage to India", "Places in the Heart" and "A Soldier's Story".

The film had an effect on popular music and continues to influence writers and musicians. One well-known example is "Rock Me Amadeus", by Austrian pop artist Falco, which was a hit in 1985. Finnish metal band Children of Bodom uses Salieri's quote, "From now on we are enemies... you and I..." as the introduction to their song "Warheart". The album Beyond Abilities by progressive metal band Warmen uses quotations from the film and includes a track entitled "Salieri Strikes Back". Warmen's later album Accept the Fact also uses a quote from Amadeus and has a song called "Return of Salieri".

Abraham appears in the 1993 film "Last Action Hero". The young boy, Danny, tells Arnold Schwarzenegger not to trust Abraham because "He killed Mozart!" Schwarzenegger asks "In a movie?" Danny responds, "Amadeus"! It won eight Oscars!"

"Amadeus" has been parodied several times, including in episodes of "Family Guy" ("It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One"), "The Simpsons" ("Margical History Tour"), "Freakazoid", "Mr. Show", "30 Rock" ("Succession"), and "How I Met Your Mother" ("The Best Burger in New York").

American Film Institute recognition

*1998 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies #53


*The Orchestra: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner

*The Choruses
**Academy Chorus of St Martin In The Fields, conducted by Laszlo Heltay
**Ambrosian Opera Chorus, conducted by John McCarthy
**The Choristers of Westminster Abbey, conducted by Simon Preston

*Instrumental soloists
**"Concerto for Piano in Eb, K482", performed by Ivan Moravec
**"Concerto for Piano in D minor, K466", performed by Imogen Cooper
**"Adagio in C minor for Glass Harmonica, K617", performed by Thomas Bloch with The Brussels Virtuosi, conducted by Marc Grauwels

*Parody backgrounds
**San Francisco Symphony Chorus

*"Caro mio ben" by Giuseppe Giordani
**Michele Esposito, soprano

Original soundtrack album

(all composed by Mozart except as noted)
*Disc One
# Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K 183, 1st movement
# "Stabat Mater": "Quando Corpus Morietur" and "Amen (Pergolesi" - performed by the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, directed by Simon Preston)
# Early 18th Century Gypsy Music: Bubak and Hungaricus
# Serenade for Winds, K. 361, 3rd movement
# "The Abduction from the Seraglio", Turkish Finale
# Symphony No. 29 in A, K 201, 1st movement
# Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365", 3rd movement
# Mass in C minor, K. 427, "Kyrie" (Mozart)
# Symphonie Concertante, K. 364, 1st movement

*Disc Two
# Piano Concerto in E flat, K. 482, 3rd movement
# "The Marriage of Figaro", Act III, "Ecco la Marcia"
# "The Marriage of Figaro", Act IV, "Ah Tutti Contenti"
# "Don Giovanni", Act II, Commendatore scene
# "Zaide" aria, "Ruhe Sanft"
# Requiem, K. 626, "Introitus" (orchestra introduction)
# Requiem: "Dies Irae"
# Requiem: "Rex Tremendae Majestatis"
# Requiem:"Confutatis"
# Requiem: "Lacrimosa"
# Piano Concerto in D minor, K. 466, 2nd 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 (later extended version was included):
* "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.


External links

* [ Analysis of "Amadeus" - the play and the film]
* [ "Amadeus"] The script.

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