In 1781 Vienna, esteemed court composer Antonio Salieri (F MURRAY ABRAHAM) is musical maestro to Emperor Joseph II (JEFFREY JONES) when they hear of the new prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (TOM HULCE) and grant an audience with the young composer.
Mozart turns out to be an intensely headstrong, arrogant, blunt and flirtatious man but a true musical genius who immediately woos the awe struck Emperor. Salieri is consumed with jealousy and soon becomes a stalwart enemy of the young musician. He sees in Mozart what he himself should have been. Over time his hatred grows.
Much to the dismay of his father Leopold (ROY DOTRICE), Mozart marries a beautiful but poor young woman named Constanze (ELIZABETH BERRIDGE), who soon develops a demanding nature and obsession with money.
Meanwhile Salieri hatches constant schemes to ensure that Mozart becomes unemployable as a music tutor, while his concerts are given only limited runs on the stage. Leopold dies and Mozart falls into a deep dark depression, heightened when Constanze leaves him and takes their infant son with her, and he rapidly heads on a downward spiral to self destruction.
AMADEUS is one of those interesting films (such as THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and A FEW GOOD MEN) which was a highly successful stage play before being reincarnated onto celluloid.
The story is told in flashbacks by a remorseful and elderly Salieri, now an asylum inmate, confessing to a visiting Priest that he killed Mozart. As such anybody expecting a true biopic of Mozart may be disappointed, yet for fans of his music the film is a dream come true as the entire score consists of his own work. Not one note has been changed.
Although this is an extended cut with an extra twenty minutes (ensuring the film now runs to three hours in total), I never saw the original so am not sure just how important the additional material actually is. Slightly off putting are the American accents used by many of the cast but after a while they do not distract the viewer quite so much. The film is lavishly produced and has been created purposely to expand on the highly stylised form of the stage play.
Special Features include a commentary from the Director MILOS FORMAN and Writer PETER SHAFFER, the Original Theatrical Trailer and, best of all, a fascinating and insightful hour long Making Of documentary.
Many people tend to find films about composers rather tedious and somewhat boring. AMADEUS, the winner of eight ACADEMY AWARDS, begs to differ and in this is highly successful.