Amadeus

AMADEUS

amadeus

1984 – Some unpleasant old man really doesn’t care much for Mozart.

When this movie first came out, it was rated PG and ran for two hours and 41 minutes. That, I would say, is plenty of time for a Mozart story. The version I saw on Netflix, which is a dreaded “director’s cut,” runs over three hours and is rated R.

Far, far too long. The director, Milos Forman, notes what was cut for the (shorter) theatrical version: “Whatever was not directly connected to the plot.”

I’m sorry… isn’t that what’s SUPPOSED to be cut during the editing process? Was it not Antoine de Saint-Exupery who observed, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to take away”? Sorry, Milos Forman, but I doubt any audience felt cheated that several interminable scenes of Mozart sweatily conducting music got left out.

This is one of the movies that everyone knows the plot of already: Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) is the court composer for Emperor Joseph II (noted sex offender Jeffrey Jones). When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) arrives in Vienna, Salieri is driven mad by the realization that, in comparison to Mozart, he’s a talentless hack. He contrives a circuitous and convoluted scheme to ruin Mozart’s career and drive him to eventual illness and death, involving dressing up as the ghost of Mozart’s father (Roy Dotrice).

It’s hard to believe, but this ridiculous plot sounds better as a concept that it does in actual execution. Amadeus won EIGHT OSCARS and was nominated for eleven, but I’m afraid I just don’t see it. There is a critical flaw at the heart of Amadeus, a flaw so glaring that the movie’s few merits are completely obliterated.

Simply put, nobody likes classical music. It is boring and no one listens to it. However, in this movie, all everyone does is listen to classical music and talk about how great it is. This is just not very realistic.

There are a lot of movies where people listen to classical music or go to an opera, but something important is usually happening. When the Emperor goes to the opera in Revenge of the Sith, for instance, he is intent on seducing Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. In Amadeus, the Emperor also attends the opera… but then he just talks about how much he liked the opera! Can you imagine if that’s what happened in Revenge of the Sith? “Hey, Palpatine, can you tell me more about the powah of the Dahk Syde?” “Not today, Anakin. I’d rather you focus on this weird musical that they’re performing in a language we can’t understand.”

Way back in my first review here, I made note of the distinct lack of fart scenes in The King’s Speech. I hate to say it, but here there are almost too many fart scenes. I’m sorry, but in a movie about jealousy, obsession, insanity, attempted suicide, and murder, what is the point of having Mozart farting? It’s hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a time and a place for fart scenes.

As an example: the scene where Salieri has Mozart’s wife (Elizabeth Berridge) come to his apartment and strip naked. There were several moments during this scene when a fart would have been like the grace note at the end of a fantastic symphony (perhaps even a Mozart symphony! BOOM!). Instead, we just had to endure a fartless boob scene – in my opinion, the worst kind of boob scene.

If you have an overpowering need to watch a movie where the people all wear ridiculous costumes and wigs, try Marie Antoinette (but only the parts with Rip Torn in it).

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