"Amadeus" is a risky movie—this much has faded from the time it was released. What remains today is an incredibly solid period piece that chronicles the lives of Mozart and his competition Antonio Salieri. But what we fail to see is how brave and risky the elements of the movie that make it work—the story of a wife whose willing to do anything for her husband, the madness that parallels the mind of the men, the politics that musicians had to just through, and (possibly the most courageous move) the casting of Tom Hulce as Mozart himself.
When you think of Mozart, you think of think of the stiff man you see in his portraits. He's never smiling or laughing, quite placid actually. But then there's the Mozart of "Amadeus", who's crass and manic (his laughter is one of the iconic sounds from this movie).
The movie begins and ends with Salieri, he is the main character of "Amadeus". Why then a movie about and named after Mozart? Because Mozart fills Salieri's mind and he becomes the object of his obsession.
"Amadeus" has so many levels to it—you can be one of the best at your trade, and yet there is always going to be someone better than you. This is how Salieri feels at least, he was the premier composer in the country and then a young, crude, and vulgar boy shows up with a huge talent and Salieri is left out in the cold.
Instead of waiting and asking himself why, Salieri immediately takes the actions of Mozart as a message from God, banishing him from the privileged few that will be in God's inner circle.
Hubris is a large part of "Amadeus". The pride that both Mozart and Salieri have is so great that it blinds them to their surroundings.
What works with "Amadeus" is the madness within the film. Everything starts out formally, with pomp and circumstance. Then, things start to tip down as the characters are faced with their inner demons.
"Amadeus" takes its viewer on a ride—but, it's a smooth ride, you dont' feel forced into corners.
Mozart's music is the score to the movie, and this is the power of the film. When you see Tom Hulce being crazy and whatnot, you assume that he is a caricature—but with the backdrop of Mozart's works, you can see that this man was disturbed.
Milos Forman seems to like the crazy side of film, his last venture "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was even set in a mental ward.
"Amadeus" gives a more artistic side of the insanity—poetic and haunting.
When the music swells and the sweat pours off the sleep-ridden head of Mozart as he tries to finish a piece, you forget everything else. "Amadeus" is immersing, it pulls you into its world and doesn't let you go.
"Amadeus" stormed the Academy Awards, winning eight Oscars and blowing the competition out of the water. This is one of the better movies to come out of the 1980s—it's daunting and epic.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones